Circe – by Madeline Miller – independent book review – Fiction

This one is a current bestseller. And while many people whose opinions I respect have rated it five stars, I can’t be one of them. This is simply not one of my preferred genres. Awarded four stars on Goodreads.

If you are a devotee of Greek myths or a fan of fantasy — this book is for you. It’s an imaginative first-person account of Circe’s story. Circe (CIR-SEE) was a sorceress, one of the daughters of the sun god, Helios with Perse, an ocean nymph. You may be familiar with her because of her appearance in the epic story of Odysseus — who visits Circe’s island on his way back from the Trojan War. Or you may know something of Circe’s famous siblings — ‎Aeëtes (keeper of the Golden Fleece)‎, ‎Pasiphaë‎ (mother of the Minotaur), ‎and Perses (eventually slain by Medea). Circe also has appeared over the centuries in works by many authors, including Hesiod, Nonnus, Lycophron, Rhodius, Xenagoras, Virgil, Ovid, Plutarch, Boccaccio, John Gower, Lope de Vega, Machiavelli, Edmund Spenser, Giordano Bruno, Antoine Jacob and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Image of Circe by John William Waterhouse (from Wikipedia)

On the plus side, there’s a decidedly feminist bent (in this version) to the way Circe takes charge of her own life — defying her parents, standing up to other gods, teaching herself herbs and potions, choosing lovers, and generally making her own rules in the world. Plus, she shows remarkable skill at getting what she wants, even in negotiations with more powerful beings.

But while I read the entire book, and even found some sections of it compelling — changing people into animals, arguing with petty gods, and fighting multi-headed monsters is not MY preferred reading material.

More about the author, Madeline Miller.

Author Madeline Miller (from