Review of ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller

There has been a lot of buzz about this book (Bloomsbury, 2018). Circe, witch-goddess of Greek myth, is an intriguing character to base a novel upon. I think it’s a real achievement and at over 400 pages, definitely has that epic quality. However, I found my attention sliding at halfway through because I couldn’t see where the plot was going. Once she’s on her island, in exile, the momentum just drops and is slow to pick up again.

What I did admire about the book was the powerful use of language, the descriptions of what it’s like to be immortal and the interplay of gods with humans. It’s also about strong women: Circe the witch and single mother, her manipulative sister Pasiphae (who gives birth to the Minotaur), Scylla (a love rival who is turned into a ravenous sea monster by Circe) and mortal Penelope (wife of Odysseus, she takes Circe’s place as witch on the island). So the story really gives women of the Greek myths a voice. You could say it shows their human side.

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book. Although I liked the choice of words and the well-researched details, the sentence structure is a little dull, for those who notice that kind of thing. I suppose the author is consciously emulating the style of ancient texts, but that’s what makes me lose interest; for me, narrative style is more important than anything else in a book. I also prefer books with a bit of humour in them, and this one has precisely none. I don’t regret reading Circe, but I won’t be reading The Song of Achilles.

11 thoughts on “Review of ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller”

  1. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy Circe as much as the hype makes you think you should. However, I’ve heard that comparing SoA & Circe isn’t a good thing to do, and since SoA is my favourite book, I hope you’ll give it a try at some point πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for the advice – I guess with authors I’m once bitten, twice shy πŸ™‚

      1. Oh don’t I know it, lol. It can be SO hard to find the motivation to read something else, by the same author, once you’ve been let down once. And life is too short to be reading books you don’t love.

      2. I’m the same too! Coz there’s just to many books out there to discover and so little time haha but i did enjoy Circe and SoA πŸ™‚ Like they always say, to each his own πŸ™‚

  2. Aw…so sorry you didn’t enjoy it! Yes, I agree with you that she was trying to emulate the style of ancient texts, but that didn’t really bother me and I did enjoy the story πŸ™‚ Like what they say, to each his own! Love reading a different opinion, ALWAYS! πŸ™‚

    1. I’m always honest in my reviews, even if it means saying some negative things about books that most people have really enjoyed. I can be quite critical too. Thanks for your comment!

    1. It would take a lot to make me actually hate a book πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your comment.

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