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16 Books Like Circe

Books Like Circe

In literature, certain stories possess an ineffable charm, something that doesn’t seem to leave you after you finish reading it. 

Madeline Miller’s “Circe” stands as a shimmering example, transporting us into the mythological cosmos of ancient Greece through the eyes of a captivating protagonist. 

Delving into themes of power, identity, and the search for belonging, “Circe” enchants readers with its lyrical prose and reimagining of classical myths. For those eager to embark on similar literary journeys brimming with enchantment and timeless wisdom, a treasure trove of novels awaits discovery. 

In this exploration, we uncover a selection of books akin to “Circe,” inviting readers to lose themselves once more in the magic of myth and the intricacies of the human spirit.

Books Like Circe

1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

This novel is another masterful retelling of a classic Greek myth, focusing on the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. 

Madeline Miller delves deep into the emotional landscape of her characters, bringing a fresh and humanizing perspective to the legendary tale set against the backdrop of the Trojan War. 

The storytelling is rich and evocative, with a deep focus on love, destiny, and the human condition.

Major Similarities: 

Much like “Circe,” “The Song of Achilles” is a retelling of Greek mythology with a strong emphasis on character development and a deep exploration of themes such as love, fate, and the struggles of the divine versus the human. 

Miller’s lyrical writing style and her ability to bring new life to ancient stories are consistent across both novels, making “The Song of Achilles” a compelling read for those who appreciated “Circe.”

2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

This book offers a retelling of the Trojan War from the perspective of Briseis, a queen turned Achilles’ concubine. Barker’s narrative gives voice to the women who are often silent in these ancient tales, exploring themes of power, survival, and the impact of war from a female perspective. 

The writing is stark, powerful, and deeply moving, offering a fresh look at a story many think they know.

Major Similarities:

“The Silence of the Girls” shares with “Circe” the theme of giving voice to the often overlooked female figures of Greek mythology. 

Both novels offer a feminist perspective on classical stories, focusing on the inner lives, struggles, and resilience of their protagonists. The emphasis on a lesser-told viewpoint and the exploration of the impacts of mythological events on women draw a parallel between the two works.

3. A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

This novel retells the story of the Trojan War, but, like “The Silence of the Girls,” it does so from the perspectives of the women involved, from famous figures like Helen and Penelope to lesser-known characters. 

Haynes weaves together their stories to create a rich tapestry of human emotion, consequence, and resilience against the backdrop of a legendary conflict. 

The narrative is engaging, insightful, and offers a comprehensive view of the war’s impact on all aspects of women’s lives.

Major Similarities: 

“A Thousand Ships” and “Circe” both focus on the stories of women from Greek mythology, providing a broader and more nuanced understanding of their roles and experiences. 

Haynes, like Miller, employs a narrative style that is both lyrical and poignant, highlighting the strength and complexity of her female characters. Both authors challenge the traditional narratives by focusing on the untold stories and the emotional truths behind the myths.

4. Lore by Alexandra Bracken

“Lore” blends Greek mythology with a modern-day setting, where the ancient gods are punished to live as mortals on earth and hunted by descendants of ancient bloodlines. 

The protagonist, Lore Perseous, is drawn back into the brutal world she tried to escape after the murder of her family. The story combines elements of action, mythology, and moral complexity, offering a thrilling and contemporary take on ancient myths.

Major Similarities: 

Similar to “Circe,” “Lore” incorporates Greek mythology into its narrative, albeit in a more modern context. Both novels feature strong, independent female protagonists who must navigate a world filled with gods, monsters, and destiny. 

The themes of power, identity, and transformation are central to both stories, providing a deep exploration of the characters’ journeys through adversity.

5. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In this novel, Margaret Atwood gives a voice to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, and the twelve maids Odysseus kills upon his return from the Trojan War. 

Told from Penelope’s perspective in the underworld, the narrative offers a sardonic and critical take on the events of “The Odyssey” from the viewpoints of those who are usually marginalized in the epic. 

Atwood’s signature wit and insight shine through, presenting a story that is both a critique and a retelling of the classic tale.

Major Similarities: 

“The Penelopiad” shares “Circe’s” focus on feminist reinterpretations of Greek mythology, highlighting the stories and perspectives of female characters that are often overshadowed in traditional narratives. 

Both Atwood and Miller use their narratives to critique the original myths, offering new insights and bringing to light the experiences and voices of women. 

The literary quality and thematic depth of both books make them resonate well with readers interested in these new perspectives on ancient stories.

6. The Children of Jocasta by Natalie Haynes

Natalie Haynes reimagines the stories of Oedipus and Antigone by focusing on the less-explored lives of Jocasta, the mother and wife of Oedipus, and Ismene, Antigone’s often-overlooked sister. 

This novel offers a fresh perspective on the famous Greek tragedies, highlighting the strength, resilience, and agency of its female protagonists against the backdrop of fate and family curses. 

Haynes’ narrative skillfully intertwines the personal with the mythological, offering deep emotional insights and a richly detailed ancient world.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Circe,” “The Children of Jocasta” shines a light on the stories of women within Greek mythology, focusing on their perspectives and experiences. 

Both novels are characterized by their deep emotional depth, complex character development, and a fresh take on well-known myths. 

Haynes, much like Miller, seeks to uncover the humanity within these ancient tales, offering a nuanced exploration of their themes through the eyes of its female characters.

7. Mythos by Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry’s “Mythos” retells the ancient Greek myths, from the creation of the universe to the adventures of the gods and heroes, with his characteristic wit, eloquence, and insight. 

Fry’s storytelling breathes new life into these classic tales, making them accessible and entertaining for a modern audience. The book is filled with humor, tragedy, and the enduring human themes that these myths have encapsulated for millennia.

Major Similarities: 

Although “Mythos” covers a broader range of myths than “Circe,” both books share a deep love and respect for Greek mythology, aiming to make these ancient stories resonate with contemporary readers. 

Fry, like Miller, possesses a unique ability to humanize mythical figures and explore the timeless themes within their stories. 

Both authors offer engaging, insightful, and beautifully written retellings that highlight the relevance and humanity of these ancient tales.

8. House of Names by Colm Tóibín

In “House of Names,” Colm Tóibín retells the tragic story of Clytemnestra, Agamemnon, and their children, Iphigenia, Electra, and Orestes, offering a new perspective on this famous Greek myth. 

Tóibín brings a modern sensibility to the ancient tale of betrayal, revenge, and family dynamics, focusing on the psychological depth and complexity of his characters. 

The narrative is stark, powerful, and emotionally resonant, with Tóibín’s prose shedding new light on the motivations and inner lives of these legendary figures.

Major Similarities: 

“House of Names” and “Circe” both provide a modern retelling of Greek myths, focusing on character-driven narratives that explore the psychological and emotional landscapes of their protagonists. 

Both Tóibín and Miller offer a fresh perspective on these ancient stories, emphasizing the human aspects and moral complexities of their characters. 

The novels share a thematic interest in fate, power, and the consequences of personal and divine actions, making them compelling reads for those fascinated by mythology and its enduring impact.

9. Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Following her debut with “Ariadne,” Jennifer Saint’s “Elektra” focuses on the tragic figure of Elektra from Greek mythology, offering a fresh take on the story of the House of Atreus and the cycle of vengeance that defines it. 

The novel is told from the perspectives of Elektra, Clytemnestra, and Cassandra, providing a multifaceted view of the events leading up to and following the Trojan War. 

Saint’s narrative explores themes of power, revenge, and the roles of women in a world governed by the whims of gods and men. Her writing is lyrical and engaging, offering deep emotional insights into her characters.

Major Similarities: 

“Elektra” and “Circe” both delve into Greek mythology with a focus on the stories of women, exploring their complexities and the impact of their actions within a patriarchal society. Jennifer Saint, like Madeline Miller, reimagines these ancient tales with a modern sensibility, emphasizing the inner lives and struggles of her female characters. 

Both authors craft compelling narratives that highlight the resilience and agency of women in the face of destiny and societal constraints, making “Elektra” a compelling read for fans of “Circe.”

10. Galatea by Madeline Miller

In this short story, Madeline Miller revisits Greek mythology with the tale of Galatea, the statue brought to life by Pygmalion’s love. Miller’s retelling focuses on Galatea’s perspective, exploring themes of autonomy, freedom, and the complexities of being human. 

The narrative delves into her struggle against Pygmalion’s control and her desire for independence, portraying her as a deeply sympathetic and resilient character. Miller’s prose is, as always, lyrical and evocative, bringing a fresh emotional depth to this ancient myth.

Major Similarities: 

“Galatea” shares with “Circe” the focus on a female protagonist from Greek mythology, exploring her journey towards self-determination and freedom. Both works highlight Madeline Miller’s talent for reimagining mythological stories with a modern sensibility, emphasizing the emotional and psychological landscapes of her characters. 

The themes of power, identity, and resistance against patriarchal constraints are central to both narratives, making “Galatea” a poignant companion to “Circe.”

11. The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

This novel takes a step away from Greek mythology and delves into Norse mythology, telling the story of Angrboda, a witch who falls in love with Loki and faces numerous trials as a result of their union.

Gornichec explores themes of love, fate, and resilience, as Angrboda must protect her children and navigate the complexities of her relationships with gods and other mythical beings. 

The narrative is rich with magic, mystery, and the exploration of a lesser-known mythological tradition.

Major Similarities: 

While “The Witch’s Heart” is rooted in Norse rather than Greek mythology, it shares with “Circe” a focus on a powerful female figure navigating a world of gods and magic. 

Both novels feature strong, complex heroines whose stories revolve around their familial ties, love interests, and struggles against fate. Gornichec, like Miller, offers a fresh and deeply human perspective on ancient mythology, highlighting the endurance and emotional depth of its female protagonist.

12. Alcestis by Katharine Beutner

“Alcestis” offers a unique retelling of the Greek myth of the same name, focusing on the titular character, who is famed for her self-sacrifice and loyalty to her husband, King Admetus. 

Beutner’s novel delves deep into Alcestis’ inner life, exploring her motivations, desires, and the consequences of her actions in a patriarchal society. The narrative weaves together themes of love, death, and the quest for autonomy, presenting a richly detailed and emotionally resonant story.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Circe,” “Alcestis” reimagines a Greek myth with a strong focus on its female protagonist, exploring her complexities and challenging traditional narratives. 

Both novels are characterized by their deep psychological insight, lyrical prose, and the exploration of themes such as the search for identity and the struggle for agency within a constrained existence. 

Beutner and Miller both use their narratives to illuminate the lives of women in mythology, offering a nuanced and empowering perspective on their stories.

13. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

“Ariadne” is a retelling of the myth of the princess of Crete who helps Theseus defeat the Minotaur and then is abandoned by him. 

Jennifer Saint’s debut novel focuses on Ariadne’s life and her relationship with her sister Phaedra, exploring themes of love, betrayal, and the search for independence. 

The narrative gives voice to the women behind the myths, offering a feminist reinterpretation of the ancient stories. Saint’s storytelling is immersive and rich, highlighting the emotional journeys of her characters against the backdrop of divine and mortal worlds.

Major Similarities: 

“Ariadne” shares with “Circe” the goal of bringing to light the stories of women in Greek mythology, focusing on their strength, resilience, and the challenges they face. 

Both novels offer a feminist perspective on their source material, emphasizing the autonomy and complexity of their female characters. Saint, like Miller, writes with a lyrical and evocative style that brings the ancient world to life, making the emotional landscapes of their protagonists deeply relatable and compelling.

14. Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

“Lavinia” is a novel by Ursula K. Le Guin that gives voice to Lavinia, a character from Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid.” In the original poem, she is a silent figure, but Le Guin’s retelling explores her life, thoughts, and the world of ancient Italy with depth and empathy. 

The story delves into Lavinia’s role in the founding myths of Rome, her relationship with Aeneas, and her perspective on the events that shape her destiny. Le Guin’s writing is both lyrical and insightful, offering a nuanced portrayal of Lavinia’s inner life and her interactions with gods and mortals.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Circe,” “Lavinia” focuses on a lesser-known female figure from ancient mythology, providing her with a rich inner life and agency that the original texts do not. 

Both novels are concerned with the intersections of fate, free will, and the personal agency of their protagonists within the constraints of their mythological worlds. 

Le Guin and Miller offer a thoughtful and feminist reinterpretation of classic myths, emphasizing the voices and experiences of women.

15. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

“The Immortals” is a modern-day fantasy that blends Greek mythology with a murder mystery in New York City. The protagonist, Selene DiSilva, is the goddess Artemis living in the modern world, who now works as a vigilante protecting women. 

When a woman is murdered in a way that echoes ancient Greek rituals, Selene is drawn into the investigation, uncovering a conspiracy that ties back to the gods themselves. Brodsky’s novel is fast-paced, blending thrilling action with deep mythological lore and a strong feminist narrative.

Major Similarities: 

“The Immortals” shares with “Circe” the use of Greek mythology as a backdrop for exploring contemporary themes and issues, particularly those affecting women. 

Both novels feature strong, independent female protagonists who are deeply connected to the ancient world yet navigating modern challenges. 

The blending of myth with reality, the exploration of divine influence on human lives, and the focus on empowerment and identity link Brodsky’s and Miller’s works.

16. For the Most Beautiful by Emily Hauser

“For the Most Beautiful” retells the story of the Trojan War from the perspectives of two women often sidelined in traditional narratives: Briseis and Chryseis. Emily Hauser gives these characters a voice, exploring their thoughts, feelings, and the impact of the war on their lives. 

The novel is a rich mix of love, loss, and resilience, highlighting the strength of its female protagonists against a backdrop of epic conflict. Hauser’s writing is both accessible and evocative, bringing a fresh perspective to these ancient tales.

Major Similarities: 

Like “Circe,” “For the Most Beautiful” aims to shed light on the stories of women within the grand narratives of Greek mythology, focusing on their experiences, struggles, and agency. 

Both Hauser and Miller use their narratives to challenge and expand upon the traditional roles assigned to women in these myths, offering a more inclusive and nuanced portrayal of their lives. 

The emphasis on storytelling from a female perspective and the exploration of themes such as love, sacrifice, and resilience are key similarities between the two books.

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