As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals for 2016 is to read 100 books. My first read book this year is a classic fantasy novel: Lilith by George MacDonald. The following is SPOILER FREE. Promise 😉
I’ve had this book on my shelf for a year now (it was a Christmas gift last year), but it’s been a book on my must reads for 9 years (no, that’s a not a typo). I first heard about this book when I was in high school, but had a hard time finding it — it was first published in 1895. Now that I’ve finally read it, I can say that I’m glad it took me this long to read it, because I don’t think I would have fully appreciated it when I was younger.
The first thing to note is that George MacDonald inspired many of the fantasy authors we laud today: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Lewis Carroll, Madeleine L’Engle, etc, but he himself is often overlooked. After reading Lilith, I think it’s a shame that more people haven’t discovered his writing. I hope to rectify that here 🙂
Lilith is the story of a man named Mr. Vane who follows the ghost-like Mr. Raven into a strange universe. There he meets a variety of creatures and people from the Little Ones (children who never grow up) to the titular Lilith (a princess with ill intentions). In this strange land, Mr. Vane is tasked with protecting the Little Ones and their caring leader, Lona while coming to a deeper understanding of life and death. A dark and sometimes disturbing read, Lilith is pure fantasy steeped in Christian allegory.
Having read The Chronicles of Narnia as a young girl, it was easy for me to find the parallels between Lewis’ classic work and MacDonald’s. Lilith is far denser in its material than Lewis’ though, those of you who have read the entire series of Narnia book might agree, Lewis never skips away from ideas of death and resurrection. Still Narnia reads as a book series for a younger audience while Lilith is better read and appreciated by an adult audience able to comprehend the subtext and ponder on it after.
If you are looking for a thoughtful novel with fantastical leanings, I highly recommend that you pick up Lilith and give it a read.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,