Circe by Madeline Miller was one of the acclaimed new additions to my to-read list, and as a fan of her previous book – The Song of Achilles – I started it the moment it arrived.
It tells of the nymph-witch Circe, daughter of Helios, maybe most famous for her part in the Odyssea. In Madeline Miller’s tale she is a sort of a rebel child, who sees through and despises the whimsical envious nature of gods. The mighty Olympians, the Titans, the lesser divinites – they are all spoiled and mean and only interested in people who gravel before them, make sacrifices to them and beg for their favor. Circe, however, is interested in humans and pretty much the only divinity with any sort of personality in that world. However, for all her adeptness in writing beautifully, Miller is not my favorite when it comes to first person storytelling. Her other POV character, Patroclus, was annoying and uninteresting in the Song of Achilles, and so is Circe.
I do not want to sound like I am trashing the book, because it is a competent work by an excellent author. Yet, in the end I cannot say I liked it, because of two major drawbacks: I didn’t connect with the protagonist (same as with Patroclus in The Song of Achilles, but there we had the more central character of Achilles); and it was boring. And how could it not be. The entire story takes place on the island of Aiaia, where Circe is exiled by the gods. She lives there alone, roams the woods, walks on the beach, brews potions and basically we live in her head. Actually with all that introspection and passivity I am surprised the book had things happening at all.