The daring, dazzling and highly anticipated follow-up to the New York Times bestseller The Song of Achilles
One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
An epic spanning thousands of years that's also a keep-you-up-all-night page turner." - Ann Patchett
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange childnot powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess powerthe 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.
Madeline Miller was born in Boston and attended Brown University where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She lives in Narbeth, PA with her husband and two children. The Song of Achilles was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction and has been translated into twenty-five languages.
“Rapture. Utter rapture. Exquisite, live-wire prose; a wave of a story, surging and ebbing and surging afresh; and above all, Circe herself once inscrutable, now indelible. Miller has shaken the dust from Homer’s tapestry, blasted it with air and light, and exposed glorious new colors, new textures. A magnificent novel. A privilege to read.”
★ 02/05/2018Publishers Weekly
Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe’s evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning Odysseus’s sailors into swine. Her narrative begins with a description of growing up the awkward daughter of Helios, the sun god. She does not discover her gift for pharmakeia (the art of using herbs and spells) until she transforms her first love, a poor fisherman, into a god. When he rejects her in favor of vain Scylla, Circe turns Scylla into a sea monster. Now considered dangerous, Circe is exiled to an island, where she experiments with local flora and fauna. After returning from a visit to Crete to help her sister give birth to the Minotaur, Circe is joined on the island by errant nymphs sentenced to do their penance in her service. By the time Odysseus’s ship arrives, winding its way home from the Trojan War, Circe reigns over a prosperous household. Welcome guests enjoy her hospitality; unwelcome guests are turned into wild pigs. Neither the goddess Athena nor the deadliest poison known to man makes Circe flinch. Weaving together Homer’s tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal. Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group. (Apr.)
★ 03/01/2018School Library Journal
Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, mightiest of the Titans, was a peculiar child who had few of the gifts the demigods enjoyed, and she was despised by her parents and numerous sisters for her deficits. What she lacked in godlike ability, though, she compensated for with a gift for herbology and witchcraft. When she is rejected by her first love, the mortal Glaucos—who pines instead for the beautiful nymph Scylla—Circe casts a spell that turns Scylla into a hideous sea creature. For her transgression, Circe is banished by Zeus to an island, where she survives alone until Odysseus, "son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks," lands upon her shores and is seduced by her. Drawing on the mythology of the classical world, Miller deftly weaves episodes of war, treachery, monsters, gods, demigods, heroes, and mortals into her second novel of the ancient world (after the Orange Prize—winning The Song of Achilles). Prometheus and Medea are among those who also make an appearance here. VERDICT This absorbing and atmospheric read will appeal to lovers of Greek mythology.—Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK
★ 2018-01-23Kirkus Reviews
A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch."Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers." So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller's dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus' crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: "When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist." Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: "I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began." This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that "not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead." Circe's fascination with mortals becomes the book's marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside "the tonic of ordinary things." A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller's readership to mushroom like one of Circe's spells.Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.
#1 ALA Library Reads Pick for April
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The Millions "The Most Anticipated: The Great 2018 Book Preview"
Cosmopolitan's "33 Books to Get Excited About in 2018"
"Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe's evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning Odysseus's sailors into swine.... Weaving together
Homer's tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal."Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"In her stirring follow-up to the Orange Prize-winning The Song of
Achilles (2011), Miller beautifully voices the experiences of the legendary sorceress
Circe...This immersive blend of literary fiction and mythological fantasy demonstrates that the Greek myths are still very relevant today."Booklist
"A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch...
[Circe is] a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller's dazzling second novel....Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse,
who had negligible use for their child....Expect Miller's readership to mushroom like one of Circe's spells. Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing
21st-century monsters."Kirkus, Starred Review
"An epic spanning thousands of years that's also a keep-you-up-all-night page turner."Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth
"With lyric beauty of language and melancholy evocative of Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn", CIRCE asks all the big questions of existence while framing them in the life story of the famous goddess who had the magic of transformations. A veritable Who's Who of the gods of Olympus and the heroes of ancient Greece, Circe knows them all and we see them through her perceptive eyes. This is as close as you will ever come to entering the world of mythology as a participant. Stunning, touching, and unique."Margaret George, author of The Confessions of Young Nero
"Circe bears its own transformative magic, a power enabled by Miller's keen eye for beauty, adventure, and reinvention. Through the charms of a misfit heroine, the world of gods becomes stunningly alive, and the world of our own humanityits questions, loves, and bondsis illuminated. This book is an immense gift to anyone who reads to find their own bravery and quest." Affinity Konar, author of Mischling
"Madeline Miller, master storyteller, conjures Circe glowing and alive - and makes the Gods, nymphs and heroes of ancient Greece walk forth in all their armored splendor. Richly detailed and written with such breathtaking command of story, you will be held enchanted. A breathtaking novel."Helen Simonson, author of The Summer Before the War and Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
"Circe is the utterly captivating, exquisitely written, story of an ordinary, and extraordinary,
woman's life" Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing
"Written with power and grace, this enchanting, startling, gripping story casts a spell as strong and magical as any created by the sorceress Circe."Mary Doria Russell, author of Epitaph
"Magic, adventure, and mythology - this one's got it all."Bustle
"With sumptuous writing and descriptive imagery you'll see these gods and men and every being in between as you've never imagined them before."
"With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytellingBookBub
"Madeline Miller shifts the portrayal of Circe from the seductive, turning-men-into-pigs sorceress from Homer's Odyssey by humanizing her into an empathetic, warm,
multi-faceted goddess."Vox Magazine
"This beautifully written and absorbing tale of gods and mortals will delight Miller's many fans and have them reaching for Edith Hamilton's Mythology."Library Journal
"Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe's evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning
Odysseus's sailors into swine.... Weaving together Homer's tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal."Publisher's Weekly
"In the highly anticipated follow-up to The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller is back with another powerful and moving retelling of Greek mythology")BustleFrom the Publisher
Having reinterpreted Homer's Iliad in her Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles, Miller now turns her attention to the Odyssey from the perspective of Circe, the sorceress who changed Odysseus's men into swine. The daughter of the sun god Helios and the nymph Perse, Circe is despised by her parents and siblings for her less-than-divine abilities. Seeking comfort in human companionship, she discovers her own special powers of witchcraft when she turns Glaucus, the mortal man she loves, into a sea god. But Circe's tranformation of Scylla, her rival for Glaucos's affections, into a monster, leads to her banishment to the deserted island of Aiaia. Over the centuries, she hones her magical skills while encountering some of the most famous figures in classical mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus, Medea, and, of course, the crafty Odysseus. Along the way, Circe evolves into the powerful witch feared by the Olympian gods. But after a lifetime of lonely immortality, is this enough for Circe? Her final act of transformation will move and surprise readers. VERDICT This beautifully written and absorbing tale of gods and mortals will delight Miller's many fans and have them reaching for Edith Hamilton's Mythology. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/1/17.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journal