Myth and Magic: The 20 Best Books Like Circe (Read Alikes)

The follow-up of ‘The Song of Achilles’, Circe is the critically acclaimed novel written by Madeline Miller which takes a look at the story of Circe from a feminist lens. 

As of right now, the esteemed author has only written two full-length novels, so if you’re interested in finding more stories similar to Circe—ones that contain greek mythology, witches, retellings of familiar stories, magical elements, or other historical fiction–then keep reading to find out which of these comparable novels you should try reading next!

Myth and Magic: The 20 Best Books Like Circe (Read Alikes)

About ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller

The highly-anticipated follow-up to Madeline Miller’s beloved book, ‘The Song of Achilles’, Circe was published in 2018 and immediately became a #1 New York Times bestseller. In the self-titled novel, the story of Circe–an enchantress, minor goddess in ancient Greek mythology, and the first witch in western literature–is told from the feminist perspective, giving Circe a chance to narrate her own story, which is a story of strength, persistence, and resilience.

The feminist retelling of the famous Greek myth follows Circe as she navigates a man’s world while nothing seems to go in her favor. Deemed unattractive and powerless at birth, rejected by the mortal turned God that she was once in love with, exiled and forced to live on a remote island due to her sorcery–Circe is no stranger to hardships, but her ability to navigate them makes for an enthralling story.

A suspenseful piece of literature with evocative characters and lyrical writing, the novel explores Circe’s origin story along with themes of love and loss, family rivalry, and healing. 

While the main character of the story is alone most of the time, Circe is still able to find a great balance between being ruminative and exhilarating. The compelling story, which has quickly become a classic, certainly proves that it is worth the hype.

The 20 Best Books Like ‘Circe’ by Madeline Miller 

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Song of Achilles, The

Naturally, the only other full-length novel that Madeline Miller has written finds its way at the very top of the list. The Song of Achilles is an adaptation of Homer’s Iliad told from the perspective of Patroclus, a childhood friend and the presumed lover of Achilles. 

While the love story was published before Circe, it doesn’t need to be read before the follow-up novel in order for you to understand it. However, if you enjoyed Circe and have yet to read The Song of Achilles, you should definitely consider giving it a read. You can find The Song of Achilles here.

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

The Silence of The Girls

Like many of the novels on this list, The Silence of the Girls is a feminist retelling. The novel recounts the events of the Iliad from the point of view of Briseis, the Trojan queen of Lyrnessus who is taken as a slave by Achilles. Much like Circe, The Silence of the Girls is a powerful story that showcases the silent strength of a woman suffering. If you’re interested in reading more about the Trojan war from a woman’s perspective, this is a great book for you. You can find The Silence of the Girls here.

The Women of Troy by Pat Barker

The Women of Troy: A Novel

Although it can be read as a standalone, The Women of Troy is a continuation of The Silence of the Girls. Picking up after the death of Achilles and the fall of Troy, this is a story of the aftermath of the Trojan war which heavily critiques the monstrosity of the Greeks during the conflict. Fans of Madeline Miller and those who enjoyed the first book of this two-part series will find enjoyment in reading this story. You can find The Women of Troy here.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

A Thousand Ships: A Novel

Another retelling of the Trojan war from the perspective of the women involved, A Thousand Ships also explores the aftermath of the brutal war from the points of view of 25 women–both mortal and immortal.

The story oscillates back and forth through time as Calliope, the ‘patron of epic poetry’, tries to educate an old male bard on what a proper war epic should be about. Throughout the novel, we see vignettes about women from various ancient sources spanning hundreds of years, including Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. You can find A Thousand Ships here.

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

The Penelopiad (Canongate Myths)

Those who are obsessed with retellings of The Odyssey will love The Penelopiad, another feminist rewrite that explores the life of Penelope, the daughter of King Icarius, the mother of Telemachus, and Odysseus’s wife. The novel also explores the stories of the 12 innocent maids that Odysseus ordered his son to hang at the end of The Odyssey. At only 216 pages, The Penelopiad is a short and quick-witted read that lovers of Circe will surely enjoy! You can find The Penelopiad here.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Ariadne

Ariadne tells the story of the daughters of King Minos–and granddaughters of the sun god Helios–Ariadne and Phaedra. Love, betrayal, the relationship between two sisters, and tragic fates are all explored in this book, which tells the story of the Cretan princess from her own perspective for the first time. 

Ariadne’s story differs depending on which source you read it from–in some, after she helps Theseus defeat her brother, the Minotaur, she is abandoned by Theseus and hangs herself. In others, Theseus carries her to the Greek Island, Naxos, and leaves her there to die but she is rescued by Dionysus who she soon marries. So, which fate is she met with in Saint’s novel? You can find Ariadne here.

Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth by Jessie Burton

Medusa: Jessie Burton

Much like Circe, Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth is written in a lyrical way that makes it easy to consume as the emotions spill off the page. This novel retells the story of Medusa, a girl exiled to an isolated Island by Athena, who put a curse on her after Poseidon raped her and befouled Athena’s temple. 

Soon, a beautiful boy named Perseus ends up on the island, and Medusa is confronted by feelings of betrayal, desire, and love. Filled with full-color illustrations and targeted at Young Adult readers, this is an excellent novel for those who enjoyed Circe. You can find Medusa: The Girl Behind the Myth here.

The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

The Witch's Heart

If after reading Circe you find yourself interested in reading more about witches, The Witch’s Heart is a great novel for you. The mythology fantasy novel tells the story of Angrboda, an ancient witch who was cast out of the world of the Norse Gods and burned–not once but three times–at the stake as punishment for refusing to give Odin, the god of war and of the dead, knowledge of the future. 

Angrboda survives the burning, though she is left wounded and powerless as she runs off to a secluded forest. This extraordinary novel reimagines Norse mythology and, though not a romance, explores love and war while keeping readers interested with magical elements. You can find The Witch’s Heart here.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi

Piranesi is a fantasy novel set in a parallel universe made up of an infinite number of halls which causes a loss of identity and memory in newcomers. Although his name is not actually Piranesi, the story follows a man who lives in a house made of marble halls filled with statues. The novel explores surviving trauma and finding happiness even in the midst of a labyrinth. You can find Piranesi here.

Daughter of Sparta by Claire Andrews

Daughter of Sparta (Daughter of Sparta, 1)

Daughter of Sparta has it all. A story with adventure, mystery and slow-burn queer romance, this novel is another thrilling retelling of Greek mythology. It follows Daphne, who has spent her whole life training to become a warrior, only for an encounter with the goddess Artemis to put a halt to her plans. 

The novel is a reinterpretation of the classic Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo and makes for a very interesting read as it follows Daphne on her action-packed quest to bring back nine stolen items from Mount Olympus and restore the Gods’ powers before they fade away completely. You can find Daughter of Sparta here.

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins by Emma Donoghue

Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins

Lesbian fairy tale retellings. I doubt it needs any more description, but nonetheless…Kissing the Witch is a collection of thirteen stories that see women, young and old, tell their stories of love, revenge, and betrayal. The fantasy novel explores old fairy tales in a new voice with modern plot twists. You can find Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins here.

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Gods of Jade and Shadow

This historical fantasy novel slash Mexican folklore-inspired fairy tale is based on a Mayan myth and follows the protagonist of the story, Casiopea Tun, as she falls in love with a Mayan God,  Hun-Kamé. Set in 1920s Mexico, the story begins with Casiopea living in her grandfather’s house and being shunned, but she soon leaves with Hun-Kamé as he embarks on a journey to reclaim his throne. You can find Gods of Jade and Shadow here.

Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories

For those interested in dark retellings of familiar fairy tales, Bloody Chamber is an excellent read. The collection of short fiction takes fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood and Beauty and the Beast and transforms them into more explicitly fascinating versions of themselves. You can find Bloody Chamber here.

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin

Lavinia

This introspective novel, written in the first-person, recounts the life story of Lavinia, a character in the Aeneid. A character who didn’t speak a word in Virgil’s poem, Ursula’s novel finally gives Lavinia a voice. The story takes place in ancient Italy and sees Lavinia, the daughter of a local king, taking her destiny into her own hands after prophecies forewarn that she will be the cause of a bitter war. You can find Lavinia here.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor Duology, 1)

Another mesmerizing novel for those interested in queer historical fantasy, She Who Became the Sun is a reimagining of the rise of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. The story follows Zhu, a peasant girl who is told that her brother is destined for greatness while she is destined to die. 

To escape her fate, Zhu steals her brother’s identity and enters the Wuhuang monastery as a young male novice. Zhu meets her future wife, Ma Xiuying, while preparing for an upcoming battle. You can find She Who Became the Sun here.

Alcestis by Katharine Beutner

Alcestis

Alcestis was a princess in Greek mythology, known almost solely for her selflessness, love, and loyalty to her husband, but Beutner’s novel expands her story and gives her a larger role than just playing the part of a good wife. 

This story explores the three days Alcestis spent in the underworld after being sent there in her husband’s place, and sees Alcestis fall in love with the goddess, Persephone. You can find Alcestis here.

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel

Kaikeyi: A Novel

The story of a princess in a patriarchal society, Kaikeyi sees the notorious Queen from the Indian epic, Ramayana, realize that her own worth is reduced to whatever marriage alliance she can secure. 

She is determined to create a better world for herself and the women around her, and so transforms herself from a princess into a warrior, and soon, a championed queen. You can find Kaikeyi here. 

The Goddess of Nothing At All by Cat Rector

The Goddess of Nothing At All (Unwritten Runes)

Another Norse myth retelling, this novel is written from the perspective of Sigyn, a deity from Norse mythology who was married to Loki, God of mischief. Sigyn is a fierce woman who has tried her hardest to earn her place amongst the Gods, but she is treated cruelly and met with the refusal to be granted her title. She soon sets out to find Loki, who she believes will be able to help her. You can find The Goddess of Nothing At All here.

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess (The Goddess War, 1)

For fans of Greek mythology, this novel is a must-read. Many famous Greek Gods appear, although oddly enough, the immortals are dying out. The Queen of the Gods, Hera, has formed an alliance with other ancient Olympians who are killing off their rivals in order to add more time to their own lifespans. 

The gory novel follows Athena and Hermes as they find their own allies and prepare for the Goddess war. You can find Antigoddess here.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Lore Olympus: Volume One

This contemporary reimagining of one of the best-known stories in Greek mythology, the Taking of Persephone, sees the young Goddess of Spring navigating the world of the Gods after she moves on from living in the mortal realm.

When her roommate, Artemis, takes her to a party, she meets Hades and instantly feels something between them. The webcomic turned graphic novel sees Persephone exploring Olympus while figuring out her place. You can find Lore Olympus here.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re in search of more retellings of fairy tales, the female perspectives of the Goddesses seen in Greek Mythology, queer love stories set in ancient times, or historical fiction with fantasy elements, hopefully, this list will help you find the next book for you to fall in love with!

FAQs

Is Circe a queer book?

Circe’s relationships are strictly with men, but the book is beloved by the LGBTQ+ community.

Can I read Circe without reading Song of Achilles?

Technically, The Song of Achilles comes first, but you can forgo reading it and read Circe without missing anything.

Do I need to read the Odyssey before Circe?

No, you do not have to have read the Odyssey to read Circe.

How is Circe presented in the Odyssey? 

Circe is first described as a beautiful goddess living in a palace isolated in the midst of a dense wood on her island.

What does the word Circe mean?

A sorceress who changed Odysseus’ men into swine but is forced by Odysseus to change them back.

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Tia Trammell