Author: Madeline Miller
Genre: Fiction, Mythology, Historical Fiction
Publication: April 10, 2018 by Lee Boudreaux Books
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
It pains me to give this book anything less than 5 stars. I’m convinced Madeline Miller is an actual goddess herself because of how glorious her writing is, but I’m sad to say this story left me disappointed and underwhelmed.
I went in to this with high expectations since others reviewers have raved about it. Not only that, but the synopsis had me thinking that it’d be something I’d completely fall in love with. Madeline Miller has written one of my favorite books of all time (The Song of Achilles) and I’m enthralled by the way she writes. I was supposed to adore this.
So what went wrong?
Here’s the thing: this book started off strong and it had tons of potential. I suspected it would be epic, and it truly was at the beginning. However, once Circe was on the island of Aiaia, the story became incredibly slow moving. I dreaded picking up this book because of how bored I was inside of Circe’s head. It was just her thinking about the animals, about the herbs, about being alone, and about all the men that visit occasionally. To me, it dragged on and on.
However, I do know that this wasn’t supposed to be about an exciting plot, but about Circe herself. This a majorly character driven story. It’s genuinely meant to be calm and slow moving; a journey about self discovery and acceptance, if you will. It’s not that I can’t appreciate a character driven book, because I normally love them, but here came the other problem: I didn’t love Circe and couldn’t connect with her. I did feel for her and her loneliness, but I just couldn’t care enough about her to become invested in her life.
Without a solid plot, and a character I didn’t enjoy reading about, I was left with a book that never quite captured my attention. Although I can imagine that if you’re not like me, and actually love Circe as a character like most others do, then this book would be much more enjoyable. In fact, I can see why it’s praised so highly. There was plenty of pure excellence that came from this book, which is why I did end up giving it a decent rating.
First of all, and I mentioned this before, Madeline Miller is a brilliant author. I can’t stress this enough. The way that Miller writes is like nothing I’ve come across. It’s beautiful, completely magnificent, and you can just feel how carefully crafted each sentence is. Even though I didn’t fall love the concept of the story, I was still fascinated enough by Miller’s writing to continue on. Honestly, her writing deserves an entire star itself.
I also enjoyed the Greek mythology aspect. Ever since I read Percy Jackson & The Olympians about a decade ago, I’ve been completely fascinated by Greek mythology. The way that Miller does her retellings of these classic stories is unique and so well thought out. I also thought that her decision to write about Circe’s story, which isn’t exactly a “popular” one, was an interesting decision. I liked to learn about a character who we don’t often hear about.
While I’m glad I did read this book, I am honestly relieved that it’s over. It just went too slow to me. There were parts of the story that I could feel myself becoming absorbed in; especially at the beginning, and some parts at the end. Ultimately though, it was more of a disappointment than anything. It was enjoyable enough, and I’d still recommend it you’re interested, but it simply wasn’t for me.