The Song of Achilles is a retelling of The Iliad for a modern audience, written in a literary style rather than a historical epic. In a lot of ways it’s similar to Mary Renault’s books, but I’m going to avoid comparing this to Mary Renault at every turn as, let’s face it, no author is really going to come out of that well.
Madeline Miller writes with a beautiful, almost lyrical style that at the same time is very easy to read, like a gentle breeze. This immediately gives the book a wistful, almost dream-like quality which I thought was surprisingly effective. It may be based on The Iliad, a very brutal and earthy book, but this novel does something completely different with the subject matter. I found that the dreaminess emphasised the idea that this is a semi-mythical story, slightly vague and ambiguous from so many retellings and so many years of history. However, despite this the characters felt very solid and alive, and their fears and longings were real. Often a dreamy book can create passive, dull characters, but this never happens here. Madeline Miller handles this difficult style perfectly, creating something both lovely and moving.