There were many reasons to pick up Circe by Madeline Miller. The book comes with an interesting cover, has garnered rave reviews in bookish circles and has won the Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 for Fantasy Fiction. This also coupled with the fact that I have never read Greek Mythology till date, and was intrigued to know more about it. With all the excitement shrouding Circe, I embarked on my reading journey to only realize that I was soon to be let down. Now don’t get me wrong here, the book isn’t bad, but there really aren’t any strong reasons to make me consider it a favourite one.
Circe- The mythical tale from Greece
She is known to be an enchantress who wove her magic around Odysseus and possessed powers that could turn men into pigs, if irked by them. Circe- born in the house of Helios, the God of the Sun and the mightiest of the Titans, is strange in many a ways. Not a beauty, nor as powerful as her father or her siblings, she grows up neglected and ridiculed. This makes her turn around to the world of mortals for love and compassion. In the process, she discovers her strong powers of witch craft that could transform beings into unfavorable forms. Threatened by this ability of hers she is banished to a deserted island. It is here that Circe hones her skill, taming wild animals and turning men into pigs. But all doesn’t remain well for Circe. As a woman standing alone, she draws the wrath of men and God.Circe needs to fight it out, to protect the things and people she loves the most. She beckons her inner strength and power to combat to finally decide where she actually belongs- the Gods she is born to or the mortals she has grown to love. As interesting as this plot sounds, I must lay bare what clicked and what did not for me.
Getting to the positive aspects of the book
- A character driven book: Circe is one of those rare books where it is the character who speaks out more than the plot. With a strong central character, Circe rules over every page. As you read about who she is and how she deals with the hurdles that come here way, you sense her inner strength. In the time of #MeToo, here is a female protagonist who teaches you to fight your own battles.
- The prose: Very expressive with metaphoric descriptions to communicate thoughts. Despite being a fresh take on the ancient Greek mythical, the authenticity is kept intact( so I did my google based research on the depictions to arrive at this conclusion).
- Riveting sections: Portions of the book had me hooked where I just wouldn’t want to put it down. But do note, this is barely 25% of the book.
What I did not like
- It drags and drags and drags. Every episode and occurrence was far too stretched out over multiple pages. It did make me yawn, skip a few pages and take a break to stretch those frozen arms.
- There was too much effort to complete it. I would attribute this to the lack of crispness in writing. It indeed is a simple plot; yet unnecessary complexities added made it a book that required a lot of effort to read.
- Too many secondary characters seemed irrelevant to the central character of the book. In the initial half of the book, the secondary characters don’t add much value to the intrinsic part of the story. It just was so time consuming to soak them up all in and I failed to keep a track of all of them.
- Loose ends: Various sub plots closed with loose ends left me with more questions than answers after I completed reading the book.
- The ending majorly failed for me. It seemed more reflective. After all that had been built around Circe and the strength she possessed, the finale seemed too weak, not befitting her persona depicted.
So do you pick it upon?
Pick it up if you love reading books that have a popularity or award tag. Pick it up if you savor anything to do with Greek mythology. Pick it up if the pace of the book being slow isn’t going to bother you much.
The book is available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format.
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