Circe by Madeline Miller – ⭐
God that was exhausting. Didn’t think I’d make it through. I am BAFFLED by how this was 2018 Best Fantasy Book on Goodreads. I guess I won’t be following those as recommendations for what to read anymore, and this was my first attempt at that!
It lacked emotion, a likable main character, and at times was even lacking interest (aka…. it was dull.)
Goddess Circe finds out she’s a witch, and hopes that’ll make her daddy finally love her. He ends up exiling her though, mostly for political reasons. This story is about her on the island she’s exiled to and the random people who occasionally come her way. It’s primarily her complaining about how being immortal is sad and boring, and she’s a pathetic excuse for existence. After listening to her for hundreds of pages, I’m inclined to agree.
This follows the life of the goddess Circe, which seemed really exciting because she is a FASCINATING character of mythology. Unfortunately, it was written very weirdly, and it felt like she had no emotion, no strong voice, and came across almost like a documentary. I could picture David Attenborough reading this to me. (Audiobook idea? He would def make it better!)
At times it was just pages and pages of her saying “I’m bored” in a million different ways. I get that exile might be boring for an eternity, but my god (ha), maybe you went too far with making your reader emphasize because I put the book down for a week or two and only barely managed to pick it back up! Toning down the sheer number of times she complains would have helped. I didn’t like Circe in this story. She was wildly fickle, flipping from one extreme to the other, with no consistency.
There are some events that I thought, there’s no WAY this can be boring (her and the Minotaur, crossing Scylla’s path, etc) and at times those parts did really suck me in. But in order to get to the Minotaur, we had days of bland sailing, looking around the woods, complaining to and about how mean her sister is. And that just really sucks the fun away. I feel that many of those moments could have been pared down and the focus kept on the event itself to save the excitement of the action.
I didn’t HATE this book, but I was immensely bored by it, and disappointed by the Goodreads community, because how the heck was THIS what they thought the best fantasy book of 2018 was?! Fantasy is in a really bad state if that’s true. Don’t get sucked into the hype like I did, and try picking up Ben Bova’s The Winds of Altair if you’re looking for some real fantasy.
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