I’ve seriously considered reading some of the Greek Classics such as the Iliad by Homer. My hesitation comes from the style; I don’t trust I will enjoy how the story is told as interesting as the story itself may be. I recall reading the Odyssey in high school of which I remember enjoying. Nevertheless, I find it hard to make that step. The God of War PlayStation video game helped feed my interest in Greek Mythology in high school, and I would consider it an area of interest of mine. The Incarnations of Immortality series is something I really enjoyed conceptually. All of that made me eager to read Circe, by Madeline Miller.
Even more so, I love viewing things from a new perspective. If you read my TBR (for Buzzwordathon) you will know I will be reading a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of the women this month. I went into this book really hoping that it would rekindle my love from the Greek mythos and for other types of retellings. I think it has done just that!
I wish I had something critical to say about this book, but I can’t. This does everything I think I want from a Greek retelling set in antiquity. It gives me the traditional story (as far as I can remember), but it feels like an entirely different story than the one we read in the Odyssey. Miller has taken a character that I recall as malicious and unlikable and made her relatable. Her story reveals the hypocrisy of the Greek Gods and the ability of a victim of the system to fight for her own independence.
Part of that is the act of making mistakes. Regrets allow us to learn and grow; it is up to us to have the heart to care enough to grow. Circe is that type of person, and that is what separates her from all the other Greek gods and titans alike. Greek mythology has always felt like a story told by men who wish they were more. Circe is a story about appreciating the small and the finality. As restricting as mortality is, it also forces us to grow one way or another. Eventually, we are gone, and the world moves on.
Circe is a story of growth. It is a story about surviving in a world set out to undermine you. It brings new life to an old story with uncanny contrasts to issues of the modern day, and it does so in an easy to follow and enjoyable style. All I have are nice things to say. Nevertheless, the 5 star rating feels wrong. There are no obvious flaws, but the transition form 4 to 5 isn’t just a matter of perfection. It is also a matter of preference. This type of story still isn’t my favorite, and this story didn’t break the mold that significantly. That is why I am going with 4.5/5 stars, rounding down.