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Trigger/Content Warnings: Violence, Rape, Jokes about forced consent, Bestiality, Death.
I’ve decided that this book was basically created to appease those who love(d) the Percy Jackson series as children/teens but have grown older and needed a more adult version. No matter how hard I tried, I could not separate this story from what I read in the PJO series. It was a huge struggle to keep the two worlds apart. (especially since they are kind of the same world???)
To be entirely honest with you all, I used to be obsessed with mythology back in the 6th grade. It was the first time it was introduced in my social studies class and I was also reading The Lightning Thief for Battle of the Books. I loved learning about Greek gods and goddesses.
So, when Leelynn reviewed this book on her blog and really liked it, I thought, why not give it a try? I am always up for a retelling and even more up for a story about a gone-rogue woman (or, in this case, goddess).
Just to be frank, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this retelling. It was well written, stayed true to the mythological stories that have been passed down for centuries, and showed Circe as the imperfect being that she is.
I think that the biggest reason I struggled to really get pulled into this was because there were times that dragged for me. I’ve mulled it over and I honestly don’t think it’s the fault of the author, and here’s why: she wrote this as a retelling about a goddess who lived for over a thousand years (I honestly am not sure exactly how long is was, but a thousand yrs was mentioned a couple of times so I’m going with that). Miller managed to put Circe’s entire lifetime into less than 400 pages, and let me tell you, being banished to an island doesn’t make for a super fun and entrancing life. It just is what it is.
So I really don’t blame the author for me getting a little bored with the story now and then. The written was done well and I really felt like Miller did a fabulous job of making a convincing retelling. My only knowledge of Circe before reading this came from her appearance in The Sea of Monsters, which gave me a much different impression of her. In that story, she was much more of a villain. In this, she’s still kind of a villain, but she’s one that you can largely understand and relate to.
Having said that, though, there were definitely times when I felt like Circe was an extremely hard character to root for. This is, once again, not a fault of the author’s story telling, but of the many mythological tales that have been passed on.
I think that this was supposed to be a kind of… feminist take on mythology? I’m not really so sure that that is the right word, but it was meant to give a goddess (and a minor one at that) her own story instead of making her a supporting character in some god’s story. I can appreciate that; I do appreciate that.
However, the reason I can’t comfortably call it a feminist retelling is because Circe could be really awful to other women!? She is literally credited throughout history for turning another nymph into a horrendous monster. She sleeps with a married man knowingly and even though I understand that she was annoyed with the bratty nymph girls who were sent to her island for punishment, I felt like she could’ve been kinder to them. She herself notes how the sons are never punished for anything and she can relate so well to these girls, yet she shuts them out.
The one thing that you can rightfully give to Circe is that she stood up for herself. Not at first, but after some time she stops letting the men, both human and god alike, abuse, harm, and underestimate her. She becomes a woman worthy of fearing and protects herself and the things that matter to her. Honestly, even when I didn’t like some of her choices, she was a total badass and she made sure that no one could take that away from her. She even finally took a stand against her father, who was truly the epitome of the god complex (see what I did there? ha).
“You have always been the worst of my children,” he said. “Be sure you do not dishonor me.”
“I have a better idea. I will do as I please, and when you count your children, leave me out.”
Overall, I think it’s the type of story that you’ll like if you’re heavily into mythology. When the lives and legacies of these gods and goddesses have been passed down for so long, there isn’t much room for an author to stray away from those tales. Miller gave Circe her own voice and her own story with this book, but you need to have a genuine interest in hearing it to really enjoy it, if that makes any sense at all. It isn’t mean to redeem her or her actions, but to dive deeper into why she made the choices she did.
This really isn’t the most cohesive review but I am very limited on what I can talk about without completely ruining the book for those of who are going to read it! I also just have very indifferent feelings toward this novel and don’t properly know how to explain why.
Note: If you’re viewing this on my actual site, then you may have noticed a few differences in formatting today! (If you’re viewing on Reader, you wouldn’t have noticed any changes) I wanted to thank Leelynn for giving me the idea (& permission to use said idea) for the fading out of the flowers in my rating graphic. Additionally, Caitlin’s new post called ‘Small WordPress Tips & Tricks that’ll Go a Long Way ft. html, themes & more!‘ is amazing and gave me some fun new ways to experiment with. She also recommended a post from Tale Out Loud titled, ‘Basic HTML Tutorial That Can Be Very Helpful for Every Book Blogger Who Uses WordPress.com‘ which was widely helpful to me as well! If you want to learn any new tricks, check out both of those posts!