by Madeline Miller (2018)

The Sword & Laser Podcast June 2018 pick.

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.

Comparisons can be made with with Tanith Lee’s Night’s Master. Both have a mythological style and draw on material from Western canon.┬áIn fact Circe draws characters from Homer’s Odyssey.

The prose is rich and detailed, due mainly to sentence length. However where Lee’s writing compresses time into paragraphs and drives the story along, Miller’s prose adds details to scenes and dialog. This is fine at times, but it does lead to a slowing pace and little story.

This is the main problem with the book. At first it is difficult to get into, with numerous characters and an undefined setting. But when Circe finally lands on her island, the plot simplifies and the story gets going. It’s fine until about 80% through when the weight of all the talk, little action and slow pacing just drags everything down and reading it becomes a slog. It’s at this point I had to give up and move on to something new.