Review: “Circe” by Madeline Miller

Thumbs up for Circe by Madeline Miller. Fantasy.

I liked Miller’s first book The Song of Achilles enough that her new book, Circe, immediately went to the top of my read queue. In it, she lets Circe—a witch who was Odysseus’s lover in part of the Odyssey—tell her own story. A knowledge of Greek myths might add something, but I don’t think it’s necessary. This is one of those books that is so good it’s hard to explain why you should read it without dropping into hyperbole. There’s simply everything: elegant language; effortlessly evocative setting; wonderfully drawn characters; and despite it being a life story without an “adventure plot,” each element set up early in the book is used so perfectly later, it feels like a piece of music with themes weaving in and out of each other. I spent the last two chapters crying, more or less happily, when I realized how it was going to end. Whether you read fantasy, historical fiction, or literature, you will love this.

“They take what they want, and it return they give you only your own shackles. A thousand times I saw you squashed. I squashed you myself. And every time, I thought, that is it, she is done, she will cry herself into stone, into some croaking bird, she will leave us and good riddance. Yet always you came back the next day. They were all surprised when you showed yourself a witch, but I knew it long ago. Despite your wet-mouse weeping, I saw how you would not be ground into the earth. You loathed them as I did. I think it is where our power comes from.”

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