Circe by Madeline Miller

So this tells the tale of Circe from her point of view. It starts with her upbringing within the halls of Helios her father and goes through her life up the story of Odysseus and his son Telemachus.

The story is interesting with a lot of Greek mythology covered from Prometheus to the Minotaur to Icarus and beyond. I’ve always loved Greek mythology since I was a child so I was really looking forward to this.

However I didn’t enjoy this as much as I expected and I think that was to do with the voice of Circe herself. She was so passive and self-pitying throughout most of the story that I just found it difficult to sympathise with her. Sometimes I even agreed with her spiteful sister in that half her problems were her own fault. There seemed quite a lot of moping around and frankly it just bored me. 

The writing here is amazing and kept me from putting it down and not finishing. It’s just so vivid and makes the world so well realised and believable that it’s a pity that I felt let down by the protagonist. To be fair she gets better as it goes on but you’re spending at least half this book (felt that way anyway) where nothing much happens and the prose couldn’t make up for the boredom. The gods are as capricious and uncaring as you would wish and in some ways I wish Circe was a bit more like them. The author also doesn’t shy away from the ‘heroes’ of this age, showing that their pursuit of glory has its downside to the people around them. 

Now I had a few issues with this book but loads of other people seemed to love it so I wouldn’t read too much into this. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a story like this at the time, it’s happened before, and I might re-read it at another time and love it. I audiobooked this so maybe that was the problem, there was nothing wrong with the narrator but it did mean that I was off and on with this book and maybe would have been better consumed in a physical format.

So in summary, gorgeous prose and intriguing side characters but I felt let down by the protag and pacing issues.

3 stars out of 5

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