'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 obviously 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 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.'



This was an aggressively okay book. With all its buzz, it could have made my expectations way higher than they should be, but this book was simply not what I expected. I was made to believe that Circe would grow into her powers and become someone extraordinary but she failed every time. There were several moments throughout the book where it felt like she was at the cusp of doing something groundbreaking yet every single time it was anticlimactic. She would talk about the unknown limits to her powers yet what was shown never lived up to the talk of it.

I think Circe’s development as a character really formed throughout each chapter of the novel in gradual doses. The black sheep of her immortal family, Circe made a name for herself and was exiled because they feared her power. Instead of becoming more appeasable to the gods of Olympus or titans, she chose exile and harnessed that power. She learned about love, loss, loneliness, guilt, vengeance, defiance, and dedication on Aiaia. 

Circe explores themes like femininity, power, and agency. The traditional portrayal of Circe is a passive victim of the male Gods and heroes. However in Miller’s adaptation, Circe is a powerful and feeling character who uses her magic and intellect to change and shape her own destiny. This Circe has desires, ambitions and thoughts subverts the familiar male gaze in Greek Mythology.

Circe is an easy introduction to mythology to ease new readers into mythology and yet is explained well enough that fans of mythology still find the book interesting. (Not everyone has the patience to read the Iliad haha)

It's an accessible book to read, as someone who knows only some basic knowledge about Greek mythology, I was able to easily understand everything. Characters and their relations to each other were well explained which made it easier to follow. Despite the fact the book was set for the most part in the same place the whole time, it didn't seem like the story was trapped and confined at all. Old characters left, new ones were constantly introduced, and different plot points became the centre focus which helped the story to not feel like it was repetitive. Miller often subverts these characters and their traditional depictions in myth. I got excited every time I would recognise a character. Like I didn’t realise Daedalus was Icarus’ father and Ariadne was Pasiphaë’s daughter. I also enjoyed seeing all of the myths told from a different perspective and even learning new ones. 

I enjoyed how we heard news about the other immortals or what was going on with the mortals of the world second hand from Hermes or men who washed up on Aiaia’s shores. 

However I felt like the way the book was marketed threw me off with the blurb stating ‘the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything’ only for Odysseus the actual character to exist for maybe 2-3 chapters. The first act of the book holds no mention of him, and the rest of the story only has characters with ties to him. Not only that, Circe was marketed as a feminist read, and yet I barely felt empowered. I was not invigorated nor did I really feel. As a feminist read, I was confused as to why it kept reinforcing traditional gender roles and expectations. Despite Circe being more outspoken and having more agency, she is still defined by her relationships with men. They quite literally shape her life and she relies heavily on them. She is often shown to be pining for their affection or seeking their approval.

The writing also felt very detached and unemotional. I wasn’t able to feel completely invested in the characters. Like it tried to include as many significant characters in Circe’s life in like 300 pages, when I rather have had read a deeper exploration of Circe’s internal life and her relationships. It was also written as a tale of Circe’s life, so there was a lack of any climax and the pacing was really slow.

Circe is just okay, and I think it's fine. I think I got too influenced by the media that were singing the praises of this book. I think it deserves its fanbase, yes, but this book just wasn’t for me.

Book Details

Published: 10 April 2018
Page Count: 393 pages


Content Warning Summary

  • Rape
  • Sexual Assault
  • Violence