Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller is in the same league as Eric Shanower (Age of Bronze) and Kate Tempest (Brand New Ancients). Circe's perspective as a mother is the most compelling part of this book. The parts about her relationship with her parents and siblings, and about her sorcery, all feel like something I've heard before, but her relationship with her son feels urgent and vital. Maybe I've just had too many isolated underdog stories lately, but I'd prefer to know more about her positive relationships than her negative ones. Of the other characters, Odysseus is particularly well drawn: it's a long time before he's named, but it's clear he's a magnetic and brilliant (and cunning) personality. Telemachus is fascinating, too, and is very different from his father. Come to think of it, the brief role Icarus plays in the story is another standout moment, so parents and children are a strong theme here. The story itself avoids the problems of pacing that go with a story of exile, although the conclusion feels faded, just like the myths do at that point. I prefer Tempest's mix of today and yesterday, and I think myth isn't quite represented by Miller the way it really works, but as a novel set in a mythical context, this worked.

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