Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Genre: Fiction, Mythology, Historical Fiction

Publication: April 10, 2018 by Lee Boudreaux Books

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

My review:

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.

I’d love to know:

Have you read Circe? Or do you ever plan to read it? Do you enjoy books about Greek mythology?

27 thoughts on “Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

  1. Oh no, I’m sorry you couldn’t connect with Circe! I’m one of the readers who could and so I really loved this book, I totally agree that Madeline Miller’s prose deserves an entire star by itself. It’s absolutely gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear you loved it! I do think it would’ve been much better if I could’ve connected with Circe, and I wish I could have. I can totally see why you and others enjoyed this more than I did. But yes, I agree that Miller is such an incredible author!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As usual great review Brianna! I’m sorry that you couldn’t fully connect with the book and character. It sucks when things like that happen. I haven’t picked up this book because of the mixed reviews that I’ve heard about it, but maybe I’ll give it a try (i’m not sure though).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much❤️ Yeah, this one definitely wasn’t a favorite, but I would still encourage you to check it out because it seems that a lot of others loved it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, this one definitely has a lot of great ratings! I can see why people loved it, but it just didn’t end up being something I fully enjoyed. Greek mythology is really great though and I’m glad you agree 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry Circe disappointed your expectations! I’ve heard so many positive reviews on Goodreads and the blogosphere but was on the fence about reading it. I’m still on the fence, but I may give this book a go in the future (mythical retellings are my kryptonite, too).

    xoxo Abigail Lennah

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d definitely still recommend it if you think you’d enjoy it! Lots of others seem to love it and for good reason. I just personally didn’t connect with it. I hope you feel differently if you end up picking it up though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This a really helpful review, it’s nice to hear your thoughts. I am planning on reading Circe at some point, but The Song of Achilles is a higher priority for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad it helped. I would definitely recommend The Song of Achilles. It’s a personal favorite of mine, but I would still encourage you to read Circe if you think you’d like it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree about not being able to connect with Circe! (I reviewed it and had the same issue). I felt like as a character she constantly evaded me. I haven’t read anything else by Miller and now I’m wondering if I should.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s good to know I wasn’t the only one who felt this way! Circe just never ended up being a character that was captivating enough for me to care about.
      But yeah I would highly, highly recommend you check out The Song of Achilles. It’s a much more interesting story, stylistically different, and has some very well written characters.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah okay, I might check it out then! I figured it would be quite similar to Circe because episodic stuff really doesn’t seem to be mu thing. But thanks, I should probably give it a shot now!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent review! I just finished Circe and I feel very much the same. I thought the writing was great and so was the story, but it was just so underwhelming to read. I actually quite liked the book, but I was bored 80% of the time I was reading it.


    1. I’m glad my review helped you! It definitely wasn’t a book for me either. Although if you like Greek mythology, it doesn’t hurt to give this one a try. Lots of other readers loved it, but it just depends on how well you connect to the story I suppose!

      Liked by 1 person

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