Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

Review of Madeline Miller’s Novel Circe

Reagan Brown, Staff Writer

GODDESS OF SORCERY: Just reading the description of Madeline Miller’s Circe, a reader would never realize the magic and wonder the book encompasses, such as potions, transfiguration and murder. (Cover art from Amazon.)

Madeline Miller’s second novel Circe, released in 2018, has members of the book community talking about its modern twist on a classic myth. Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles, which was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction as well as being a New York Times Bestseller, had her readers interested when her second novel was published. Circe continues on with Miller’s study of retelling the stories and tragedies of Greek mythology. As an avid reader myself, I had heard exceptional reviews of Miller’s novels which led me to read Cirice

Miller’s work offers a look into the female perspective of mythology that many of the classics do not. In Greek mythology, Circe is a witch and daughter of the titan Helios; her family saw her as weak and exiled her to a life of solidarity.  

Beginning the story with Circe’s adolescence, Miller divulges the motif of toxic patriarchy in the family of the Greek gods. Throughout the story, Circe realizes that she is treated maliciously by her family because of her gender and role in her family. The story builds themes of strong femininity in breaking from the social norms. Following Circe throughout her immortal life, we see her highs and lows, love and heartbreak and the inevitable growth that emerges from an eternal life. A significant portion of the book takes place on the island of Aeaea, where Circe was sent to spend eternity alone. Yet, as you continue reading, the island is not as lonely as it seems. Circe’s character does not hold the same values as the rest of her family in the ways she views humans, which leads her to be exiled. In a time of marrying for power and status, Circe wished to see the good in people because she felt that the gods were too quick to judge due to the power they possessed over humans. Throughout the book, Miller promotes the influence of female heroism and escaping the stereotypes that people are put into by society. 

After finishing Circe, I would recommend this book to a reader who is looking for a story of fantasy and power. If you are looking for a book to advocate feminism and strong protagonists, consider reading Circe by Madeline Miller.