Madeline Miller has a great gift for taking a Greek myth and adding a subtle contemporary twist to create a compelling and magical read.
There is no doubt that Madeline Miller has wonderful gift of retelling and breathing new life into Greek mythology with a beautiful contemporary and lyrical style that reinforces how these stories can still be relevant to us today.
While her previous novel, The Song of Achilles focused on the Trojan War and the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, the story of Circe has been adapted to reflect the Me Too era that we live in today.
Told with great power and filled vivid descriptions, Circe follows her story from the court of her father Helios, through her exile to the island of Aiaia where she learns more about her gifts and powers and the unexpected visit to her island by the mortal Odysseus.
While Miller’s book keeps the essence of Homer’s original poem alive, she also gives a new voice to a character who is perhaps seen as a bit of a villain due to the way in which she transforms her enemies into animals (particularly swine) and other creatures. Circe’s jealousy might turn out to be her downfall – as the way in which she turns Scylla into a monster when she discovers Glaucus (the mortal turned God) prefers Scylla to her reveals – but Miller is still able to take this flawed character and transform Circa into someone whose strength and resilience in the face of trouble should be admired.
Written with a beautiful lyrical style that enhances the mythical and magical elements of the story, Miller effortlessly sweeps the reader through a story that is filled with great emotion and drama. This is made particularly clear when it comes to her dealings with Athena and Medea among others. Those who delight in Greek mythology will also delight in the way various other characters of the myths are intertwined with the story and engage with Circe, offering even more depth and understanding into the world in which Circe lives.
It is a surprisingly heart wrenching read and the reader really feels for Circe with every incident or act of cruelty that is placed upon her – but Miller doesn’t seek sympathy for the character: she seeks admiration for Circe and her ability to overcome difficulties and strength to forge a new life for herself.
Overall, Circe is a powerful and fascinating read that keeps the reader thoroughly engaged from start to finish. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
By Emma Clarendon
Circe is available to buy now .