Circe by Madeline Miller: A Faithful Retelling

I had always been a fan of Greek mythology retellings, but I was not really familiar with the lesser-known characters like Perse, Aeetes, and Circe, to name a few, though the lack of knowledge had been remedied by the book I marked as "finished" today. Written by Madeline Miller, Circe is a story rooted in the aforementioned myth, following the life of a Titan's daughter turned sorceress.

Born from the union of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, a nymph daughter of Oceanus, Circe is the unwanted firstborn neglected by her parents and later bullied by her twin siblings. After years of feeling like she doesn't belong, some events lead her to discover her true self. Possessing the ability to do witchcraft, it turns out, is a threat to the Olympian. Circe is then punished by Zeus to eternal exile on the island of Aiaia, where she pursues her prowess in turning herbs into magic.

I had been eyeing Circe for so longthere was a period of time when this book was circulating regularly on my Bookstagram timeline. And Circe, it seemed, was quite a faithful retelling (I had done my share of myth-checking: all the names and background info matched with what I could find on the internet).

With that said, reading Circe felt a lot like unlocking the extended version of Greek mythology in Wikipedia, while some parts with less famous yet familiar characters got me thinking, "Ha! I knew you from Percy Jackson!" Along with the distinct, poetic writing style, this book hooked me easily. I was eager to find out the "thunderbolt" this book secretly hid, the conflict that would make me root for the titular characters to win.

Being that faithful, Circe offered nothing of that sort, sadly. While I could enjoy the slow-paced story, the brilliance of the writing eventually ebbed. Circe the book was so accurate to the myth (or to the tale about Circe available out there, little that it is) that it lacked the necessary twists a book needed. Some parts, which I guessed were the author's interpolation, were not really helping either, especially when I found it hard to root for Circe, or any character for that matter because most of the female characters seemed to breathe just to spite Circe.

In conclusion, I did enjoy reading this book. Circe was a beautifully written character-driven book that made me reflect on the various characters while reading. If only the adventures of Circe could get more exciting, I'm sure I would have loved it more.

Actual rating: 3.1