WarningMight contain spoilers.

The work of a master. This is a beautifully written book with incredible resonance. The cover labels it Blisteringly modern, but to me, it feels classical in the positive sense. There is poetry in every word and an unending parade of striking, unique, unforgettable images.

Life in the halls of Helios is grim and suffocating even to contemplate. It’s no wonder that the gods and titans are terrible, callous, cruel, and weak, considering the monotonous lives they live, devoid of all meaning. What a different picture Madeline Miller paints of Hermes and Athena (among others) when compared to, say, my beloved Percy Jackson and the Olympians .

It’s impossible not to feel for Circe at every step of the way. Her experiences with the sailors who first come to her island are horrifying. The idyll with Odysseus is heartwarming, but suffused with melancholy thanks to the knowledge that he will leave—his later death is tragic yet not incomprehensible. It’s painful to see how happy she is with Telegonus, too, knowing that he desires only to see the world, and knowing how intent Athena is on destroying him.

Penelope and Telemachus both coming to Circe and becoming her friends, after a fashion, is moving, despite the fact that she loses Telegonus as a result. There’s something a little uncomfortable about Telemachus and Circe becoming lovers, but at least they’re not related, given that Odysseus was never her husband and only her lover for a comparatively brief time.

Her confrontation with Trygon is epic and awesome in the traditional sense. Every aspect of it is grand and awe-inspiring.