5 stars | Goodreads review
Madeline Miller’s writing owns my ass.
I don’t have any major points to go over, so please settle for some casual observations and notes from me 😀
– I was surprised my Circe’s naivete as Miller established her and how late of a bloomer she was compared to her siblings. This is justified, I suppose, since she appears more mortal than the rest of her family.
– Miller skillfully incorporates the motif of how myths are created all while having Circe wanting to be in control of her own narrative. She doesn’t want to be *just* a spectacle or a story men tell about her (and will inevitably twist) and it was so gratifying to finally see her confide her whole story to someone by the end. To Kill a Kingdom should take notes from Madeline Miller. This is how you incorporate hearsay and legends without constantly banging the reader over the head with telling them how this is a story within the story.
– There was so much subtle sass. I was living when Circe told Hermes off and apparently so was Penelope. Speaking of Penelope, I love her. Even if I love her, Madeline Miller still had her character face the consequences of her supposed strengths. I love that characters who are highly praised by others still have their vices and sometimes those vices stem from their strengths.
– Odysseus’ hubris was properly served.
– Circe clearly has a type lol. If you see her go from Hermes, Daedalus and then to Odysseus… I honestly really like how Hermes is portrayed here (given I don’t know much about him besides what he looks like in Hercules the animated movie lol). He’s an asshole only interested in his own entertainment, but the book unabashedly tells us this anyway. A little too real, because I’ve met people like that irl and rarely do I get the satisfaction of someone telling them off, so good on Circe.
– I’ve never seen the contrast of immortality and mortality done so well in fiction before. The ending is rather open-ended, and I like that. I generally like having a clear-cut ending or message, but it seems the message here is open ended too. Circe is truly in control of her story and she doesn’t give us the satisfaction of us the reader thinking we have her all figured out.
– You don’t need to read A Song of Achilles before reading this, but if you have you will enjoy some nice easter eggs about Patroclus and Achilles here, courtesy of Odysseus.
And obviously, the events of this book may or may not follow the consensus of Greek myth completely, but … like these stories were told orally over years and years so there are multiple versions of them anyway.
CW – rape, mentions of war, beastiality, general assholery from the Greek gods