History, Mythology+Fantasy

Five Reasons Why I did not Enjoy Circe by Madeline Miller

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.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission, if you click through and make a purchase.

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  • Ramya Rao

    Uh oh! Had planned to buy this book given that it won the Goodreads award. I don’t like slow paced books at all unless it is compelling and a page turner. I ll stay away from it. Loved your detailed review Ramya

  • Natasha

    That’s a pity. Though I feel it’s a trend. Books that get a lot of brouhaha end up being much below the standard of our expectations.

    Thanks for leaving us with this review, Ramya.

  • Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    I have heard soo much about this book but I am sure it won’t work for everyone. I am glad you read it anyway. You have a new follower!

  • Shalzmojo

    Ooooops!! I had been hearing rave things and had put it down on my TBR but now I think I will give it a pass.

    I have read and been let down by many a tales based on Greek mythology – looks like this is just another one of those. Thanks for such an honest and well analaysed review!

  • bitchbookshelf

    This has been on my TBR for a while since I love mythology. I’ve only heard GREAT things so I enjoyed your take! Sorry you didn’t like it more, though. 😉

  • Bewitched Reader Book Blog

    I love Greek mythology and I’ve seen this book post all over this year. While it’s intrigued me, something has kept me from picking it up because I don’t think it would be a good fit for me. I appreciate your honest review and feel mine would be very similar were I to read this one.

  • Christina

    This has been on my TBR for a while which is weird because I don’t normally like Greek mythology retellings. People seem to really love it but it kind of always looked like it would drag to me. Sorry it wasn’t a win for you but this is a really great review! I may just have to skip this one.

  • Jo Linsdell

    I love Greek mythology and have seen good things said about this book. I enjoyed reading your take on it. Hope you enjoy your next read more.

  • Anagha Yatin

    I do love Greek mythology but if the plot has too many loose ends, its not worth picking up for me. Thanks Ramya for the honest review.

  • Balaka

    That is one honest review. I have often seen that over-hyped books fail our expectations. I personally love books on Greek mythology so maybe would read it but would keep you review in mind and wouldn’t expect much. Thanks for sharing Ramya.

  • Leo

    I have the book, will read it soon. Then come back to see if your review and mine match. 😊 I’ve only heard positive feedback from many about it. And my friend gifted in Aug for my birthday.

  • Holly Jahangiri

    Ah, Circe, Goddess of Cereal. I might have to read this one; I did enjoy Greek mythology as a child, and I can see this is an adult version of what were always more subtly told but clearly adult stories anyway. That said, just judging by the preview on Amazon, I can see where it would have bogged down and gone too slowly – it is way heavy on narration, isn’t it? Lots of telling, not enough showing, at least at the start. Also, Circe seems to have an inconsistent voice. Hard to tell from just a few pages of a preview, but the author seems to waffle between formal and reserved, and coarse and only-slightly-humorous. Well, I applaud you for sticking with it, but I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it more.

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