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3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  4,423 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
Lilith is a story concerning the nature of life, death, and salvation. After he followed the old man through the mirror, nothing in his life was ever right again. It was a special mirror, and the man he followed was a special man.
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Borgo Press (first published November 27th 1895)
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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollThe Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank BaumDracula by Bram StokerPeter Pan by J.M. BarrieThe King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
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A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.The Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellTagged by Joseph M. ChironHis Dark Materials by Philip PullmanThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
SF & Theology
215 books — 316 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Mark Becher
Aug 27, 2007 Mark Becher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2007 Danielle rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jun 13, 2012 Dylan Jay Smith rated it it was amazing
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
Karly Noelle Noelle
Mar 25, 2011 Karly Noelle Noelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Meg Powers
Mar 01, 2010 Meg Powers rated it really liked it
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
Christopher Bunn
Aug 02, 2012 Christopher Bunn rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2010 Veronica rated it it was amazing
'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.
Amanda G. Stevens
What to say about this book? Well, it's the darker companion to Phantastes. It's an immersive fantasy dream-experience that transcends plot (though it has one). It's a Christian exhortation to the reader: die to self if you would live forever. It is by turns odd, humorous, witty, sweet, downright chilling, and glorious. It's often a blend of The Pilgrim's Progress and Alice in Wonderland, but I love it more than both those books put together.

Lilith begins as a man called Vane steps through a mi
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
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

An excess of morality for may taste.
Feb 02, 2012 Φλεγύας rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Aug 09, 2009 Jenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Dec 21, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it
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
Oct 26, 2016 Steve rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
1.5 stars. All I am after reading this book is confused. People talk about the journey the main character undertook, and all that did was confuse me. The setting confused, the characters did as well, but there was clearly an ulterior motive that the author was going for. There was a smattering of a climax, albeit very short, over too quickly and confusing. The resolution didn't resolve anything either.
Jan 20, 2017 Jay marked it as hiatus  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Starts out lovely but becomes disconnected and hard to follow. If you liked, "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," you know the sort of dedication it takes to finish this. A good writer entertaining his edgiest explorations. I might revisit this, but my to read pile has too many abandoned books at the moment. DNF.
Nov 04, 2015 Raina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, faeries
Groundbreaking fantasy - one of the first books I want to reread when I retire. Read it as part of an Inklings research project at the Oregon Extension. Part of my paradigm shift and brain remolding.
Theresa Magario
Mar 16, 2008 Theresa Magario rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people with brains
Shelves: have-read
Christian fantasy stories DO include sexy, undying, shape-shifting, blood-drinking, women!
Sep 24, 2016 Kevin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pearls
Criminally obscure! I'm too thrilled about this book to properly review it just now.

Updated observations:

•MacDonald's imagery is so imaginative and the story is so dense considering the book's length. He's created a fantastic world you never want to leave.

•It reads like a spectacular parable:my favorite sort of fiction. Mythology pointing to what Tolkien called "the true myth" of Christianity.

•It was a thrill to see the fountainhead from which came the influence on Lewis' Narnia, Tolkien's Hob
Apr 26, 2010 Jeslyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third novel I've read by George MacDonald, the first being The Princess and The Goblin, sort of a young-adult novel, which was wonderfully written. I then started searching out other titles and now have a little collection.

Frankly, I was a bit worried in the beginning - it started very reminiscent of Phantastes, and was loaded with exclamation points, which seemed odd...but don't be fooled: the story picks up in a hurry, and is an excellent read. MacDonald's imaginings of the world
Jan 16, 2016 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
George Macdonald certainly had an imagination. This book takes the reader on a journey, alongside Mr. Vane, similar in some ways to other journey stories from MacDonald's own Phantastes to Pilgrims Progress or The Hobbit. Aren't all these stories similar - leaving home, entering the unknown, learning about yourself and the world, finding redemption.

I find MacDonald in this book, like Phantastes, somewhat difficult to read. Perhaps it is that the style is so different from later fantasy a la Tol
Aug 17, 2013 M. rated it really liked it
George MacDonald stands apart singularly in my reading experiences. C.S. Lewis said that every page he wrote plagiarized MacDonald's ideas, and also admitted that MacDonald was not a great writer in the quality of his prose. I agree fully on the later and see his point with the former.

In his favor, MacDonald's adult fantasy work is great reading because he has the most distinctly confident and original ideas for myth I have every read. His fantastic worlds are wholly original and inspired. His
Feb 22, 2014 Paul rated it really liked it
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
Apr 08, 2009 K.D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 20, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it
Shelves: listened-to
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
J. Aleksandr Wootton

MacDonald seems to discover the story he wanted to tell partway through, which caused a sensation of discontinuity between the story I thought I was reading and the story I turned out to be reading, ten or twenty chapters in.

Some hopes the early chapters inspired were not fulfilled by the later chapters.
Some horrors sprang upon me, unexpected (but not unwelcome) in an otherwise whimsical book.

Don't read MacDonald for his stories, or his writing style. Read him for the curiosity of his image
Dec 12, 2012 Jackie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2011 Steve Douglas rated it it was amazing
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.
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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 G.K. Chesterton, W. H. Auden, J.R.R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. Lewis that wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I
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“A man is as free as he chooses to make himself, never an atom freer.” 68 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.” 55 likes
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