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3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,112 Ratings  ·  348 Reviews
Lilith is considered among the darkest of MacDonald's works, and among the most profound. It 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 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
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy
20th out of 181 books — 193 voters
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
40th out of 209 books — 299 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Sep 15, 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
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
Jun 21, 2014 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
Meg Powers
Mar 15, 2012 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 19, 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.
Karly Noelle Noelle
Mar 25, 2011 Karly Noelle Noelle rated it it was amazing
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Dec 24, 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
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!
Jan 10, 2015 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
May 04, 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
Mar 07, 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
Nov 25, 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
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
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
Dec 06, 2014 Stephen rated it liked it
Wildly imaginative story delivered in a very matter-of fact tone, no wows or gee whizzes. The whole 260 pages is either one dream or a series of dreams or repeated cycling from life to death. So much shape-shifting that I can't keep track of who's who or who was who in the last chapter. For example, is Lilith the white leopardess or the spotted one?

Overall, too phantasmagorical, too fluid for me. I like magic, but want it to connect to something that looks like reality. In Tolkien's Rings, say,
Steve Douglas
Jun 03, 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.
Jan 24, 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
Mar 16, 2008 Ralph rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 21, 2008 Ron rated it it was ok
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
Jun 10, 2009 Krissy Mayse rated it it was amazing
intellectual adult fantasy - explores fall of humans from grace and offers a perspective you may not have thought of. Who is Lilith really?
Jul 30, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I debated between three and four stars, but if you consider the remarkable introduction by C. S. Lewis, four is definitely the right rating.

Lilith is undeniably a strange book. After a promising beginning, the first half was largely confusing. I finally decided it felt akin to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in which we float along with the protagonist through a fantastic world in which odd characters suddenly appear and disappear, and logical progressions do not necessarily hold. I really was
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  • The Wood Beyond the World
  • Descent into Hell
  • Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories
  • The Book of Wonder
  • The Lost Continent: The Story of Atlantis
  • The Ball and the Cross
  • Undine
  • Figures of Earth
  • The Book of the Dun Cow (Chauntecleer the Rooster, #1)
  • The Worm Ouroboros
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.” 63 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.” 52 likes
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