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Circe
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Circe
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"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero...
"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero...
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  • "A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right" (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).
    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 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 of the most 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.
    With unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and page-turning suspense, Circe is a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world.
    #1 New York Times Bestseller — named one of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, the Washington Post, People, Time, Amazon, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Newsweek, the A.V. Club, Christian Science Monitor, Refinery 29, Buzzfeed, Paste, Audible, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Thrillist, NYPL, Self, Real Simple, Goodreads, Boston Globe, Electric Literature, BookPage, the Guardian, Book Riot, Seattle Times, and Business Insider.

 

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Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 5, 2018
    Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe’s evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning Odysseus’s sailors into swine. Her narrative begins with a description of growing up the awkward daughter of Helios, the sun god. She does not discover her gift for pharmakeia (the art of using herbs and spells) until she transforms her first love, a poor fisherman, into a god. When he rejects her in favor of vain Scylla, Circe turns Scylla into a sea monster. Now considered dangerous, Circe is exiled to an island, where she experiments with local flora and fauna. After returning from a visit to Crete to help her sister give birth to the Minotaur, Circe is joined on the island by errant nymphs sentenced to do their penance in her service. By the time Odysseus’s ship arrives, winding its way home from the Trojan War, Circe reigns over a prosperous household. Welcome guests enjoy her hospitality; unwelcome guests are turned into wild pigs. Neither the goddess Athena nor the deadliest poison known to man makes Circe flinch. Weaving together Homer’s tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal. Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group.

  • AudioFile Magazine Author Madeline Miller and narrator Perdita Weeks transform the ancient Greek drama of Circe, witch of Aeaea and daughter of Helios, into a fresh and vibrant tale for contemporary listeners. Long depicted as a villainous foil for male heroics, the witch is redeemed and enriched by Miller's nuanced writing. Weeks's cool British intonations and attuned performance capture Circe's evolution from youthful uncertainty amid scorn from richly characterized fellow deities to a confidence earned from centuries of island exile. Her first-person perspective creates intimacy as she engages fabled figures, such as Odysseus and Athena, and grapples with the pleasures and dangers of everyday life. An accompanying PDF identifies the countless gods and goddesses, titans, monsters, and mortals who appear throughout Circe's immortal life. J.R.T. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from February 15, 2018

    Having reinterpreted Homer's Iliad in her Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles, Miller now turns her attention to the Odyssey from the perspective of Circe, the sorceress who changed Odysseus's men into swine. The daughter of the sun god Helios and the nymph Perse, Circe is despised by her parents and siblings for her less-than-divine abilities. Seeking comfort in human companionship, she discovers her own special powers of witchcraft when she turns Glaucus, the mortal man she loves, into a sea god. But Circe's tranformation of Scylla, her rival for Glaucos's affections, into a monster, leads to her banishment to the deserted island of Aiaia. Over the centuries, she hones her magical skills while encountering some of the most famous figures in classical mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus, Medea, and, of course, the crafty Odysseus. Along the way, Circe evolves into the powerful witch feared by the Olympian gods. But after a lifetime of lonely immortality, is this enough for Circe? Her final act of transformation will move and surprise readers. VERDICT This beautifully written and absorbing tale of gods and mortals will delight Miller's many fans and have them reaching for Edith Hamilton's Mythology. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/1/17.]--Wilda Williams, Library Journal

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2018

    Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, mightiest of the Titans, was a peculiar child who had few of the gifts the demigods enjoyed, and she was despised by her parents and numerous sisters for her deficits. What she lacked in godlike ability, though, she compensated for with a gift for herbology and witchcraft. When she is rejected by her first love, the mortal Glaucos-who pines instead for the beautiful nymph Scylla-Circe casts a spell that turns Scylla into a hideous sea creature. For her transgression, Circe is banished by Zeus to an island, where she survives alone until Odysseus, "son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks," lands upon her shores and is seduced by her. Drawing on the mythology of the classical world, Miller deftly weaves episodes of war, treachery, monsters, gods, demigods, heroes, and mortals into her second novel of the ancient world (after the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles). Prometheus and Medea are among those who also make an appearance here. VERDICT This absorbing and atmospheric read will appeal to lovers of Greek mythology.-Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from February 1, 2018
    A retelling of ancient Greek lore gives exhilarating voice to a witch."Monsters are a boon for gods. Imagine all the prayers." So says Circe, a sly, petulant, and finally commanding voice that narrates the entirety of Miller's dazzling second novel. The writer returns to Homer, the wellspring that led her to an Orange Prize for The Song of Achilles (2012). This time, she dips into The Odyssey for the legend of Circe, a nymph who turns Odysseus' crew of men into pigs. The novel, with its distinctive feminist tang, starts with the sentence: "When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist." Readers will relish following the puzzle of this unpromising daughter of the sun god Helios and his wife, Perse, who had negligible use for their child. It takes banishment to the island Aeaea for Circe to sense her calling as a sorceress: "I will not be like a bird bred in a cage, I thought, too dull to fly even when the door stands open. I stepped into those woods and my life began." This lonely, scorned figure learns herbs and potions, surrounds herself with lions, and, in a heart-stopping chapter, outwits the monster Scylla to propel Daedalus and his boat to safety. She makes lovers of Hermes and then two mortal men. She midwifes the birth of the Minotaur on Crete and performs her own C-section. And as she grows in power, she muses that "not even Odysseus could talk his way past [her] witchcraft. He had talked his way past the witch instead." Circe's fascination with mortals becomes the book's marrow and delivers its thrilling ending. All the while, the supernatural sits intriguingly alongside "the tonic of ordinary things." A few passages coil toward melodrama, and one inelegant line after a rape seems jarringly modern, but the spell holds fast. Expect Miller's readership to mushroom like one of Circe's spells.Miller makes Homer pertinent to women facing 21st-century monsters.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    February 15, 2018
    In her stirring follow-up to the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles (2011), Miller beautifully voices the experiences of the legendary sorceress Circe. The misfit daughter of the Greek sun god, Helios, her powers are weak and her speech too much like a mortal's. But her unexpected talents in witchcraft prove threatening to the Titans' realm, leading to her banishment to the remote island of Aiaia. There she resides, carefully perfecting her herb lore, until her solitude is disrupted by visitors both human and divine. With poetic eloquence ( the days moved slowly, dropping like petals from a blown rose ) and fine dramatic pacing, Miller smoothly knits together the classic stories of the Minotaur, the monster Scylla, the witch Medea (Circe's niece), events from Homer's Odyssey, and more, all reimagined from a strong-minded woman's viewpoint. Circe's potential rival, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, is another memorable character, and the novel speaks to women's agency, war's traumatic aftermath, and how strength emerges from emotional growth. This immersive blend of literary fiction and mythological fantasy demonstrates that the Greek myths are still very relevant today.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2018, American Library Association.)

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