In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft. When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, Zeus banishes her to exile on a remote island. But Circe will not be alone.

Madeline Miller, the Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles, returns after six years with Circe, a tale inspired by Homer’s Odyssey. The Song of Achilles was a book I completely fell in love with, so Miller’s new novel was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. Thankfully, all those years of waiting paid off.

Miller has crafted an exquisitely written feminist fable featuring a woman who dares to take power into her own hands. Circe is a wonderful character and I loved spending time with her, watching her grow from a young nymph painfully aware of each and every one of her supposed shortcomings, to a woman taking control of her powers. Tired of always being at odds with everyone and everything around her, she decides instead to bend the world to her will using witchcraft.

Although this is very much Circe’s story (and, told in first person, we get to know her very well), we also meet many famous Greek characters along the way, including Prometheus, Athena, Icarus and the Minotaur.

No word is wasted in Miller’s evocative, precise prose. She conjures battles at sea, magical transformations and tense arguments between powerful gods with clarity and vivid descriptions. She captures both the awkward stirrings of first love and the wearying ache of immortality with equal skill.

Anyone interested in Greek mythology will find much to love here, but Miller isn’t only concerned with gods and goddesses; she is also keen to examine what happens to those who wield such immense power. She peels back the myth to expose the man – or woman – beneath. She transforms immortal beings with terrifying, fantastical powers into characters who feel like real people. Even with nymphs and monsters running amok throughout the story, the world Miller has created is utterly believable.

This book will surely become a classic; a feminist retelling that turns a tale of suppression into one of empowerment and one that truly deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.