“When I was born, the word for what I was did not exist.”
When I picked this book up, I thought it would be another tale of glorious greek heroes and their damsels in distress. Most of the greek mythological stories want their women to be as beautiful as you can imagine. Even if they happen to be dumb, their beauty would suffice to turn their story into a saga. No offence to the goddess of beauty here but you get the point.
“I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.”
From the very beginning, the book's environment has been very gloomy. Madeline has maintained that atmosphere throughout. This is not a story about handsome heroes and gorgeous princesses. This story, although is about the Gods, is somehow, very relatable to us humans and how we function in general. It is very well written and difficult to put down.
The book focuses on Circe, commonly mistaken for Calypso. Circe is the goddess of witchcraft and when she was born she was unaware of her gifts. In fact when she was born, there wasn't even a word for it. Nobody knew such a thing existed and even if it did, it was considered to be the works of the devil. All through her life she was ill-treated despite being a goddess and why? Cause she wasn't pretty enough for a naiad. She was the daughter of Helios, the Titan, but looked and sounded a lot like a human. Helios never thought of her as his own and always disliked her. She fell in love with a fisherman, Glaucas and made him immortal, afraid that he would die someday. That was when she realised her potential. But a reader who is familiar with greek mythology knows that and they also know she was cast out. There are many versions of her story. Some say she was a jealous person and came in between Scylla (a very pretty naiad) and Glaucas and wanted him all for herself and transformed Scylla into a monster. Some say she was cast out because Zeus was afraid of her potential. This book provides a version which would make you sympathize with Circe.
“You have always been the worst of my children,” he said. “Be sure to not dishonor me.”
When Circe discovered who she was, she was a meek, supressed goddess. She did not believe in herself and assumed she was fated to be looked down upon. She gathered her courage and told everyone who she actually was and that was why she was cast out, because everyone were too afraid of her capabilities. The book shows a different perspective of the gods to us. Like how they fear things like us, and they too, like us, were discovering new things. Circe kept on living. Throughout the book, one can see the transition in her character. From being a timid naiad, she became a powerful witch who stood against Athena herself . She could turn mortals into gods, she could perform transfiguration spells, make flowers bloom, turn men into pigs. She was the pioneer of witchcraft.
This book did give me a gloomy feel throughout but it was so refreshing to read. It was something I never read before and I am very happy I did. It provides a different take on how gods, of how they are not far from us and how we critisize people based on how they look and how we have these opinions in our mind of how people should be. It also provides examples of how to come out as a strong person despite being looked down upon. With all the hate she recieved, she could have given up but she chose to fight and she became stronger. Now that is inspiring.
I give this book a 10 out of 10. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do recommend giving this a read. It was worth it. It helped me look through the world in a different perspective and made me undersand people and their insecurities better. I hope you like it too!