#1 New York Times Bestseller
" A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story, Circe manages to be both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right." --- Alexandra Alter, New York Times
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.
“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.)
"a stunning epic of a book...a page-turner that is wholly original."BustleFrom the Publisher
"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")Bustle
"The goddess of magic is excavated from 'The Odyssey' and given an epic of her own."Wall Street Journal
"Song of Achilles broke me. Haunting and beautiful."Book Riot
"Circe will awaken your inner goddess... A must read."Refinery 29
"Miller's prose flows beautifully, carrying the reader onward and allowing Circe to speak in a natural voice, making her a sympathetic character and one readers will resonate with and admire."RT Book Reviews
"[Miller] paints one of the most dangerous women in history bright gold."Wonderlust
"Miller's writing is vivid and cinematic...what stays with us are Miller's careful insights, related through Circe's voice."Pop Matter
"The writing is lush and intimate, once again inviting the reader into a magic different, yet just as special, as Circe's: a magic that is unleashed whenever Miller picks up a pen."Book People's Blog
"prepare for enchantment."Washington Independent
"magic... coursing with
Circe's powers and told in language that's river-swift, unobtrusively modern,
appropriately lyrical, and polished as bronze."Library Journal
"Storytelling can subvert norms as well as establish them. That's the grand, praiseworthy project of Madeline Miller's new novel."Electric Lit
"a brilliant new epiphanous novel."Psychology Today
"CIRCE is an enchanting read from start to finish."Bookreporter
"Circe is not a chapter of someone else's epic tale, but has her own story to tell."Brit + Co
is sure to leave an indelible impression on readers both new and returning to
Miller's singular reworkings of Greek myths."BookBrowse
Miller's re-imagining of the witch Circe from The
Odyssey makes for an intriguing, feminist adventure novel that is perfectly suited for the #TimesUp moment. Circe is also a smart read that has much to say about the long-term consequences of war and a culture that values violence and conquest over compassion and learning...Miller mines intriguing details from the original tale to imagine a rich backstory for Circe that allows readers to re-visit the world of Olympians and Titans in Greek mythology. From the court of the Titans, the reader meets Circe's parents, the god Helios and nymph Perse, and is introduced to a world of supernatural power players that is every bit as back-biting, gossip-filled and vicious as any episode of House of Cards."
"Miller has taken the familiar materials of character, and wrought some satisfying turns of her own."The Guardian
"Madeline Miller's follow-up to The Song of Achilles is just as mesmerizing, and you won't be able to put down this luminous, feminist saga."Paste
"A profound feminist angle, revealing sisterhood and sexism, rape and rage, and most exquisitely motherhood."WYPR's The Weekly Reader
"The shape and structure of a novel allow Ms Miller to launch imaginative forays into the poem, adding flesh to the goddess's bones. "The Economist
"[Circe] is compassionately reimagined as a daughter, sister, lover, and friend in this addendum to the epic"Coastal Living
"Ambitious in scope...Readers will savor the message of standing against a hostile world and forging a new way."Shelf Awareness
"a fresh interpretation of the divine sorceress legend best known for turning men into pigs and seducing Odysseus."Philadelphia Style
"This is truly a gorgeous, gorgeous novelKirkus
"imbues even the small moments with the sense of wonder they deserve."Chicago Tribune
"Mythology-buff moms will love this masterful novel from
★ 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.
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