The daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, a mighty Titan, Circe is a lesser god, or nymph. She does not hold the power of her parents and is often scorned for her odd voice and behaviour in the halls of the gods where she lives. Falling for a mortal, she discovers her own power lies in witchcraft, turning rivals into monsters. For this – and feeling threatened by her power – she is exiled to an island by Zeus. It is there that she hones her craft and crosses paths with famous mythological figures. Hermes, Daedalus, Odysseus, and Athena. Her power means she can keep herself safe from most of the whims of the gods, but does she want to remain one of them?
This was an unexpected surprise and I loved it. I stayed up until 1am to finish it last night, something I haven’t done in a while because twins! I am paying for it today but it was worth it. I wouldn’t have picked this up if it wasn’t for CBR Bingo. I didn’t manage to read it in time for that but I’m very glad I gave it a go anyway.
I wasn’t all that familiar with the myth of Circe before reading this, which I think helped given I wouldn’t know what was coming. Not that this is a straight retelling of the myth that I can see, but having the more well known figures (to me) pop up and interact with her was fun and also compelling. None of them seemed to be what were in my memory. It feels very fresh. Heroes are exalted in song and poems, but here their flaws are laid bare.
Circe is a complicated character, so well fleshed out and even relatable for an immortal. She is mocked by her peers when young and finally comes into her own and feels comfortable with herself as she ages. But for her it’s hundreds or thousands of years to get to that point. Alas we mortals don’t have time for such a reckoning. And even though she has power she is still at the whim of gods and men. Initially trusting of mortals she helps men who come to her island, only to be betrayed by them. Her father thinks little of her because she is a woman and seemingly can’t do much for him. It is an interesting study of women and power and how far men will go to control them or deny them that power.
I will definitely be picking up Miller’s other novel, The Song of Achilles.