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Circe by Madeline Miller
Fantasy

Circe

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Each year thousands of members vote for our Book of the Year award—congrats to Circe!

by Madeline Miller

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Quick take

Set in the world of ancient Greek mythology, Circe is the fantastical tale of a fierce young woman—half titan, half nymph—who dares to challenge the gods.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Feminist

    Feminist

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SlowRead

    Slow build

Synopsis

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.

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Why I love it

I have a confession to make: I only know a little about Greek mythology. But that didn’t stop me from reading and loving Circe, a dazzling novel about the remarkable daughter of a formidable god. Holy cats, is it wonderful—a vivid portrayal that proves reading Greek mythology doesn’t have to feel like Homer-work. (Sorry, not sorry, for the pun.)

Though her mother is a beautiful nymph and her father is one of the most tremendous titans on Mount Olympus, Circe is awkward and unusual—an ugly duckling among phoenixes. When her powers of witchcraft are deemed a threat, she’s banished to live by herself on an island. There, she perfects her magical abilities, encounters iconic characters from Greek mythology, and learns that there are consequences for talented women who stand up for themselves.

I loved Circe because though she’s a strong, complex heroine, she’s also relatable. She’s a nymph, but she makes flawed choices and must learn from her mistakes just like humans do. Another confession: Reading Greek mythology makes me feel smarter. Something about the fact that these stories have been around for thousands of years makes my brain swell with happiness. To read one of those stories retold in such a captivating, brilliant way, is a tremendous treat. I’m convinced the author is a goddess.

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