Book review: ‘Circe’ the great witch as you have never seen her

Today we are talking about a famous book by Madeline Miller, but not the classic ‘Song of Achilles’. In fact, the Iliadic re-adaptation is not the only work that the writer has written based on Greek mythology. Her talent for researching and retelling old stories can also be found in her book ‘Circe’.

In these pages we are told the story of the famous witch Circe but in a different way. In fact, in the first pages we are presented with an ‘adolescent’ Circe.

She is of course already many years old if we think in human terms, but she is still a young nymph who has yet to make a life of her own. This young girl is merely a goddess and she and the terrible witch of the future could not be further apart.

Throughout the story we see her journey of self-discovery and what makes her truly happy in her long and stormy life.

Miller here gives us a chance to get inside the nymph’s head and understand what went through her mind when she made the curses that went down in history. (like that of the little pigs)

“Circe’ is in fact often recognised through the Odyssey and her ‘negative’ behaviour towards Odysseus‘ fellow travellers. This book shows us both these epics and other famous elements of Greek mythology.

For example, it shows how, and why, Scylla was created. Who she was before her transformation into a monster. It tells us how Circe’s transformation from a B-goddess to a witch who terrorised sailors came about.

It also allows us to get to know several deities through Circe’s eyes, who come alive and can almost leap off the pages.

Would I recommend it?

I must say that this book managed to draw me into the story very quickly. The first pages were a bit slow because Circe’s life itself was without any big events. But as soon as she takes off, so does the story.

I loved how the character of Odysseus is presented to us, finally less of a hero and more human. A point of view that differs from everything we have been told precisely because for the first time he is not the narrator.

We also see a bit of Ithaca and the great hero’s family in a deeper light than usual.

It is very noticeable that Madeline Miller studies sources and various different information before giving her finished retelling to the readers.

She is, moreover, a very good writer, she manages to convey emotions with both simple and sophisticated words. She makes you feel what the characters are feeling and if they are in a bad moment, your heart has no escape.

The atmosphere is full of magic and the witch engages us with her potions and spells, which often have no other purpose than to help her survive the cruel world around her.

Of course, keep in mind that Miller is not presenting the myths as they ‘happened’ but only her points of view that are transformed into fiction stories.

So don’t expect to find the myths as you want them to be, because otherwise it wouldn’t belong in that genre. As a book, and I think you’ve guessed it, I would recommend it with closed eyes.

Especially to all those people who grew up loving Greek mythology and all its nuances.

Read the synopsis before you start reading the book so that the general concept is clearer to you, enjoy reading!!!

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