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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  3,116 ratings  ·  274 reviews
In Lilith the aptly named protagonist Mr. Vane follows a specter through a mirror in his haunted library into a fantasy land of the past where he meets Lilith, Adam and Eve, and a host of others. He explores the nature of original sin and redemption. An epic fantasy adventure that shows us what it means to be human.
ebook, 281 pages
Published March 8th 2013 by Start Publishing LLC (first published 1895)
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Mike (the Paladin)
I was torn between 4 and 5 for this one(at first). I love it in many ways and give it 5 stars. Some will probably find it a little harder to read but that's more due to the time in which it is written and it's slightly dated style. I'm not sure that "relax" is the right word here but "relax" into the book and "experience it". This book is in my opinion amazing. I got it out of the library and still would like to find a copy available locally.

Great book.


I have since bought the book. It ha...more
Mark Becher
As my brother accurately described it, it starts out as a sort of Christian acid trip/Alice in Wonderland type experience. For the first half of the book you have almost no idea what is actually going on, but it's worth sticking it through because later it all falls into place. The story takes it's premise from an old Jewish myth about a companion named Lilith whom God gave to Adam before Eve. She was an angelic being, not human, and couldn't reconcile herself to the vocation of bearing Adam's...more
Meg Powers
This was an interesting book to read after David Lindsay's A Voyage to Arcturus. Both deal with fantastic travel (Lilith with inter-dimensional travel, Arcturus with inter-planetary travel) as a means of religious and spiritual discovery. Both drag you on a harrowing journey, where many questions go unanswered. Lilith, however, is blatantly Christian. It is fun to read a fantasy novel that illustrates the milestones of Christianity, particularly Creation and the Resurrection, using quirky versio...more
Jun 21, 2014 Danielle rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Danielle by: Tanya
I have an enormous respect for George MacDonald. His books such as At the Back of the North Wind, The Princess and Curdie, The Princess and the Goblin, The Day Boy and the Night Girl and even Alec Forbes and His Friend Annie were among my childhood favorites--they were magical and my first brushes with fantasy at 8-10 years old. He was an exceptionally gifted and inspired writer of the 1800's. I even respect his history as a clergyman who loved god but left off being a preacher because he believ...more
Dylan Jay Smith
This is by far one of the darkest books I've ever read. Coming from a Christian minister, I would expect the book to be a bit preachy. I found, however, that the story is way more of a dark fairy tale set in a somewhat biblical world, with faint biblical themes. It's hard, of course, not to be a bit biblical, considering some of the main characters are Adam, Eve, and Lilith (the first wife of Adam). MacDonald writes this story in a way that truly makes them characters in a book, rather than bibl...more
'A long time we were together, I and the moon, walking side by side, she the dull shine, and I the live shadow.'

I didn't like Lilith the first time I read it, despite being a big fan of MacDonald (and the people he influenced, like CS Lewis & Tolkien), but over the years as I have read it and read it again it has become one of my favorite books. Do not make the mistake of trying to understand each nuance- that would be like trying to understand all the symbolism of a Salvador Dali painting....more
Brian Robbins
The second of MacDonald's adult fiction I've read. I come to them via C S Lewis's enthusiasm for his writings.

It's been said of Lewis, as writer, teacher & a conversationalist, that his own love & enthusiasm for certain books & authors could be infectious & send readers & listeners away eager to read works which then proved to be disappointing to them, wondering what he saw in them.

This is partly true of my response to "Lilith". There are many weaknesses in the plot & sty...more
Christopher Bunn
I'm a fan of George MacDonald for his fantasies and for his children's books. His two older fantasies, Lilith and Phantases, are difficult to read and they're difficult to pigeon-hole. But why do we even want to pigeon-hole things in the first place? Oh, right. Marketing.

Anyway, like I said, Lilith is not the easiest book to read. Perhaps it's partially due to the era MacDonald was writing in, but he certainly isn't pandering to the lowest denominator here. The story is a haunting tale of a man...more
Karly Noelle Abreu
George MacDonald is one of the most severely underrated authors of all time. A contemporary to Lewis Caroll and major influence on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, this man’s imagination apparently knew no bounds and that is incredibly apparent in his masterpiece, Lilith. Narrated by a nameless everyman figure, it follows his adventures in a world he discovers after inheriting his father’s house and many unsettling circumstances there, leading him to a mirror which reveals another realm. Incredibl...more
Don Incognito
A review proper will be forthcoming. In the meantime, here are my raw notes taken during reading.

[June 2012] So far, this fantasy story is self-consciously impressionistic--the narrator tends to give vague and mysterious descriptions of what he sees, and repeatedly apologizes to the reader for being unable to describe them more adequately due to their strangeness.


I've never read a book quite like this. It's bizarre...

...possibly the most bizarre book I've ever read as an adult.
This is perhaps my favorite book of all time. It does not get enough good press. It is definitely MacDonald's magnum opus. I would recommend it to all fantasy-lovers and readers just looking for something refreshingly different. Like most of George MacDonald's work, Lilith does have strong religious undertones, but they are presented in a unique way that I don't believe will offend or even distract non-religious readers. The religious content is comparable to that in the works of CS Lewis. I pro...more
Much, much preachier and more metaphysical than Phantastes, this MacDonald fantasy appealed less to me but still kept me reading so that I finished all 250 pages in one sitting. In this book, MacDonald's love affair with death gets even heavier and creepier. He also seems to be making a commentary on the danger of the "New Woman," who willfully abandoned the role of "Angel in the House" at the turn of the century. The moments wherein he becomes wrapped up in the world-building aspect of the fant...more
C. Hollis Crossman
I give Lilith more than one star because it succeeds as a fairy tale; I give it no more than two because it fails on every other level.

It's not that MacDonald is a bad writer; he can make aesthetically pleasing sentences. It's just that his underlying premise is so unbiblical, and he doesn't stop pushing that premise in our faces throughout the entire novel.

Basically, this is MacDonald's most widely-read defense of universalism, that Hell isn't really a place of eternal torment but rather a hold...more
This is one of these books that I -personally- would classify as solid 5/5.
I only gave it a 4/5 for a single reason. MacDonald is not a typical writer. He was a priest, or, in the words of Wikipedia, a Christian minister.
Why's that of importance? Because, the folk and the shepherds may use the same language, but not in the same way.
The reader of this magnificent, allegoric, deeply religious fairytale will need to arm himself/herself with tones of good will to push onwards when the sentences beco...more
Incandescent and blazingly truthful, George MacDonald's 1895 fantasy on Life after life, is not just a book, its a portal. To what end that portal leads, I will leave the reader to discover for themself. As the author C.S. Lewis credits as having "baptized his imagination," MacDonald's influence on the creation of Narnia is not difficult to locate in "Lillith". Likewise, I can only assume that J.M. Barrie, a fellow Scotsman, was influenced by MacDonald's writing as he formed his Never-land chara...more
At times beautiful and others frustrating, this somewhat overly long book takes you through a rollercoaster of emotions both through the characters in the story and in the reading of that story. The story is one of a man who stumbles into another world, a purgatory. He stumbles through this world with guidance from a host of extravagantly imagined characters; a man who is also a raven who is also Adam, perpetually young children, a tormented evil half leopard half woman princess... etc... MacDon...more
A friend of mine often referred to MacDonald as her favorite author, but for whatever reason, I never tried any of his books until now. I was actually looking for free and decently narrated audiobooks on Librivox. I say decently, because these books are narrated by volunteers, and some days, I have had a hard time finding something well narrated. So I tried Lilith, and oh my!

What a book! The blurb below says how he influenced Tolkien and CS Lewis, yes! That’s the same kind of huge human and reli...more
This is my third journey through George MacDonald's 'Lilith' (most recently in the form of an audio book) and it just gets better and better each time I visit the mysterious world through which Mr. Vane traverses, and the characters and personages he encounters there. Each time I've read it I've I've learned something about myself, for good and bad, and its the highest form of praise for a book and author when you can say that the book is not only great reading, but that it changes your life to...more
Lilith is probably a prime example of why Tolkien famously disliked allegory. The book wavers between stretches of tedious exposition and somewhat ridiculous plot interwoven with achingly beautiful scenes and haunting imagery. The themes of death and paradise are heavy stuff, and for me they don't always merge comfortably with their corresponding story elements. (although maybe that's the point?) I'm torn between three and four stars, but bumping it upward because its beauty and power outweigh t...more
Steve Douglas
On the tail of At the Back of the North Wind, I found this book and read it in high school, and although I recognized it as very interesting and impressive emotionally, I was too confused to get much out of it. When I picked it up again last year for a more mature read-through, it was because in many subtle ways I realized it had never left me. I thoroughly enjoyed it in my second reading and count it among my favorite books of all.
The book is as difficult as people say it is, but I found it worth the effort. C. S. Lewis's introduction was a big help to me in getting into the book, and you can recognize in it many places that are reflected in Lewis' own writings. The evangelism of Lilith was perhaps the most remarkable and illuminating description I've ever read of the struggle of a person to come to faith.
The only thing more pathetic than this tale were the highlighting and marginal notes by someone who had no idea what MacDonald was about. Perhaps only read because all the great experts tell us to read it.
Krissy Mayse
intellectual adult fantasy - explores fall of humans from grace and offers a perspective you may not have thought of. Who is Lilith really?
Theresa Magario
Mar 16, 2008 Theresa Magario rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with brains
Shelves: have-read
Christian fantasy stories DO include sexy, undying, shape-shifting, blood-drinking, women!
well that was weird, but also good in a sort of freakishly gothic kind of a way.

'There are places you can go into, and places you can go out of, but the one place, if you do but find it, where you may go out and in both, is home.'

'When a heart is really alive, then it is able to think live things. There is one heart all whose thoughts are strong, happy creatures, and whose very dreams are lives. When some pray, they lift heavy thoughts from the ground, only to drop them on it again; other...more
Richard Abbott
I was reminded of George MacDonald’s writing by a friend on Google+, and he has been a great find. I already knew that CS Lewis acknowledged him as a major inspiration, but had not expected to find out just how large an influence he has been on modern fantasy as an entire genre.

I devoured two of his works in rapid succession – Phantastes and Lilith – and found them to have substantial differences as well as similarities. In both cases, MacDonald felt the need to devise a means for his protagonis...more
Matthew Hodge
I'm almost at a loss how to review this one. The thing I was really glad about is that there was an introduction in the one that I had by C.S. Lewis, which put me in the right headspace to read this book. Lewis explained that MacDonald was not necessarily a great *writer*. What he was, though, was an exceptional myth-maker. In the same way, that we don't necessarily think of a particular writer when we think of Greek mythology, rather we think of the stories themselves - in the same way, MacDona...more
I had enjoyed the author's "Princess and the Goblin" and "Princess and Curdie", and thought that his imaginative world for a rite-of-passage of a girl (the Princess) and a boy (Curdie) were unparalleled in its imaginative power and spiritual beauty. Lilith takes on the transition of girlhood into womanhood in the structure of biblical Adam's first wife Lilith, Adam in the shape of a guardian librarian/Raven for the protagonist, as well as Eve as the tending lady for the dead.

The writing is less...more
LILITH. (1895). George MacDonald. ***.
McDonald’s works are usually found in the YA section of most libraries. I’m not sure why, other than that they are works of high imagination that today we call fantasy. MacDonald wrote at about the same time as Lewis Carroll, and this work is highly similar to that author’s Alice series. In it, a Mr. Vane is transported into a new and strange world when he migrates through a mirror into a new land. The imaginative resources of the author are highly evident,...more
Kate Musto
I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book. The book was very good for what it was intended to be, a Christian fantasy novel. If that jives with your worldview and you like fantasy books, you'll love this. It's probably very inspirational.

However, I started the book expecting that religion would be more of a subtext than a central plot point. I can't blame the author for my misunderstanding.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book, but the moral stories quickly began, and the last seve...more
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George MacDonald: Questions about Lilith 1 20 Jan 31, 2013 02:53AM  
  • The Wood Beyond the World
  • War in Heaven
  • The Ball and the Cross
  • Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories
  • Christian Mythmakers: C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Charles Williams, Dante Alighieri, John Bunyan, Walter Wangerin, Robert Siegel, and Hannah Hurnard
  • The Charwoman's Shadow
  • Undine
  • Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis
  • The Mind of the Maker
  • The Worm Ouroboros
  • A Voyage to Arcturus
  • Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I be...more
More about George MacDonald...
The Princess and the Goblin The Princess and Curdie Phantastes At the Back of the North Wind The Light Princess

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“A man is as free as he chooses to make himself, never an atom freer.” 52 likes
“Whose work is it but your own to open your eyes? But indeed the business of the universe is to make such a fool out of you that you will know yourself for one, and begin to be wise.” 44 likes
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