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All Hallows' Eve

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  935 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Charles Williams had a genius for choosing strange and exciting themes for his novels and making them believable and profoundly suggestive of spiritual truths. All Hallows' Eve is the story of a man and woman whose love was so great it could bridge the gap of death; of evil so terrible as to be unmentionable, of a vision so beautiful it must be true.
Paperback, 296 pages
Published November 11th 2002 by Regent College Publishing (first published 1945)
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John Mabry
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the books I have ever read, this is the one that had the most profound impact on my life. I call this "the book that started the avalanche that brought me here." It's not the best book every written from a literary standpoint--indeed, Williams has serious flaws as a writer of fiction. I'm not saying it's the book I enjoyed most (PILLARS OF THE EARTH warrants that distinction). I'm saying that this book changed my life direction, and more than any other book I have ever read, it made me wh ...more
Brenda Clough
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charles Williams's best novel, and probably the most accessible to the modern reader. Any book that begins with the death of the heroine and the proceeds on to her further adventures has an interesting plot arc, you will agree.
Charles Williams was one of C.S. Lewis's best friends, but he had quite a different writing style. He's esoteric and difficult, better read than you and me and not slow to let you know it. His novels can be hard, and his poetry, wow! just about impossible.
But he carved out
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
Charles Williams's novels are powerful. His style is hard to read because many of his sentences are overly complex and his ideas of reality and spirituality are so intricate and unique that readers just don't know what he's talking about. (The commentary The Novels of Charles Williams is helpful.) But it's all so powerful. The spiritual realm is incredibly vivid and real and inter-woven with the natural realm. In fact, it is a unity with it rather than a separate entity. In Williams' novels, the ...more
Feb 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
review may follow later. It is not an easy book to describe. Very curious and complicated.
Paul Dinger
Jan 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the strangest books ever written. A young woman dies to discover a London that looks right out of Dante. A painter does a portrait of a minister and discovers he has painted beetles, and the minister thanks him for it! A magician sends someone to the future. And somehow, this is all a deeply religious book. Williams, a favored friend of C. S. Lewis wrote this and several other very strange novels. All of them are great reads while being deeply, deeply strange.
Kilian Metcalf
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charles Williams' novels are unlike any others. Although not my favorite (that would be Descent into Hell) this holds the reader's attention throughout the book. At the beginning, Lester is waiting on a bridge to meet her newly-married husband, Richard. She is angry because he has kept her waiting. Gradually she realizes that she is dead, killed by a falling airplane. Killed in the same accident is her friend Evelyn. Together they roam London. Their third friend, Betty, is in mortal danger from ...more
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This peculiar book defies description. The copy I borrowed from the library is catalogued as "Inspirational" (a light-blue sticker with a picture of a dove on the spine), but the cover art is very creepy and science-fictionish, like something out of the Dune series or L.Ron Hubbard. The story inside the book itself...well! Two dead women find a way back into the physical world and communicate with living people. One of them embraces redemption and is able to embark upon her New Life in the spiri ...more
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More like a chess game of metaphysics cloaked in poetry than a novel. It's very beautiful, but I must admit more than a little bit was beyond me. Like everything Williams wrote, one must pay close attention, re-read things as many times as necessary, and sincerely be able to allow him to shatter conventional story-telling while still creating a story. Even with all that I can say Williams seems to have understood things I simply cannot. But his goodness radiates off the page, and is worth pursui ...more
Helen Howell
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, fiction
I read this yesterday, in honor of the occasion. Highly worthwhile, as Williams always is, with several passages leaving you feeling a) vaguely stupid for not quite understanding him and b) inspired to read everything so that next time you read the book you might possibly get it. Because there will be a next time.

Also, I found his differentiation between love and compassion/kindness particularly fabulous. Perfect reading for All Hallow's Eve.
Jul 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Pretty suspenseful for, y'know, an allegory.
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a hard book to review because I feel that Williams was making a lot of statements that weren't clear to me. Therefore, all I can tell you is what I thought the book was about.

At the very beginning, two women are killed. They find themselves, as spirits walking the streets of London. The women, Lester and Evelyn, are entirely alone except for each other. The race around looking for other signs of life. As the travel over the city, we get to know them.

Evelyn is a petty, cruel person who en
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Let me start off with two observations. The first is that this book doesn't scale the heights of masterpieces like The Place of the Lion or The Greater Trumps, that it does not portray so clearly the implacable eruption of supernatural powers into the mundane world and the reaction to them of the worldlings. Rather, like, say Descent into Hell, it shows a world where natural and supernatural coexist and interact, though this book has a more positive resolution.

The second is that it is still abso
Nov 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"All Hallow’s Eve" is the greatest of the novels of Charles Williams. It shares many of the qualities, themes, and imagery of its predecessors but uses these devices more effectively and more profoundly.

The novel makes use of the Great Image of The City—an approach that appears in both Dante and Augustine of Hippo. There are four foci of this image in the book. First there is the literal city of London in which the main dramatic events take place in the physical world. Lester and Evelyn exist i
Karen L.
May 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Supernatural thriller lovers
Recommended to Karen L. by: my old friend Jeff C.
Shelves: classics, sc-fi
This book from the very beginning was like a supernatural journey to places I have never been. There was absolutely nothing predictable about the book. Page by page, it kept stirring my curiosity. It was well written and the characters were also well developed. T.S. Elliot said of Williams, " "To him the supernatural was perfectly natural, and the natural was also supernatural." Though he was a man of Christian faith, there is no mention of God or Jesus in any of the story. There is this Simon c ...more
Erik Graff
May 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Williams' fans
Recommended to Erik by: Barry Wood
Shelves: literature
My work study position at Union Theological Seminary was as a security guard, usually working nights. The job allowed much time for study, only four rounds through campus being required. I spent most of that 'free' time in the Women's Center, a lounge on the ground floor and near the entrance to Knox Hall, a residence for faculty.
During the first two of my four years at UTS I was befriended and often visited at work by Barry Wood, an Episcopal priest who also happened to be the school's physici
Brenda Clough
Dec 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Williams is a difficult author, most famous nowadays for being one of C.S. Lewis's boon companions in the Inklings. This novel is unquestionably his best, and most accessible to the modern reader. (His poetry, wow! That's tough sledding.)
A novel which begins with the death of the heroine is starting out on the right foot. From there the hijinks snap right along. This is a grand book, with both vast spiritual conflicts and tiny battles. Williams orchestrates everything into a grand climax that i
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Charles Williams writes on the margin of the physical and metaphysical and this is the best example of his storytelling. We learn how the characters -- and ourselves as readers -- react when we are touched by the spiritual world. This a wonderful mix of historical fiction, spiritual challenge, and thought-provoking insight into human thinking. His writing draws me in every time and I truly enjoy the art he practiced.
Kevin Lucia
I really wanted to like this a lot more. When there was dialogue and the characters interacted, it moved along well. The Clerk/Father is chilling in his own way, and I like the idea of dead city mirroring a live one. But the metaphysical bits dragged a little too much, and ultimately turned out to be a chore, even for a reader like myself who usually welcomes the challenge.
Jan 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: J. I. Packer
I think that this is my favorite novel. As in, ever. And I have read a lot of books. ;) "What makes it so amazing?" you might ask. It has some of the strongest and most beautiful women characters of any book I've read. It also has one of the most fantastic premises of any book I've read. But I love how this story highlights the spiritual reality that is a part of our natural world.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it
Someone wrote, "don't read this book!" on the inside back page, unfortunately, I didn't see the warning until it was too late. A more subtle hint came in that the introduction was by T.S. Eliot, but it wasn't until the 3rd chapter entitled, "Clerk Simon" that I read the hate-filled speech of the anti-Jewish at full throttle. The magician who means to enslave all mankind, the living and the dead, is Jewish of course. He even means to kill his own daughter in order to achieve world domination.
review of
Charles Williams's All Hallow's Eve
by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - December 29-30, 2017

This isn't the same cover as my edition but the details match otherwise. It's too much to be bothered w/ to change the cover image right now.

I've never heard of Charles Williams. I got this bk b/c it's published by Avon Bard, who I associate exclusively w/ great Latin American fiction so I was surprised to see this English horror story. Of course, it was also used & cheap.

Philip Cherny
This was my first experience with Charles Williams, and I'd be willing to read more from the author. A very peculiar book with a unique take on the fantasy genre, if I could even classify this as fantasy. I might even go so far as to classify it as a work of contemporary fantasy, but the bizarre juxtapositions between the occult with Christian mysticism and the ordinary humdrum post-War life place this work in its own category. Apparently Williams was one of the first scholars to translate Kierk ...more
Ali M.
Nov 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like The Place of the Lion, this is a deeply strange novel that’s not concerned with explaining its particular brand of madness to you. Williams writes in long, dense, loaded sentences with little breathing room. He can get a bit too abstract at times, forgetting to let the story do the philosophical work for him, but his imagery is so original and arresting that it's worth the effort.

All Hallows’ Eve is driven by the relationship between three female friends—it just so happens that two of them
Emily Schatz
May 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's probably most accurate to call this a book of supernatural horror...not the movie sort of supernatural horror that has winged evils screeching out of the corners of an ugly house, or an odd-looking child turning out to be a demon. This is about the horror of losing your own soul, and about the delight of gaining it in ways you never expected.

It's a tightly compact novel containing six or seven main characters, and most of the action happens within two or three days. But it takes up almost 3
Don Incognito
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
I was a literature major, trained to read novels the average reader wouldn't read, so I've probably never called a novel exhausting before; but that's what reading All Hallows' Eve was--exhausting. It's only about 275 pages, but it took me months to read, mostly because it demanded all my concentration and I often didn't have the energy.

The issue isn't the story, it's Charles Williams' questionable writing style. It very frequently segues into a dense, meandering pseudo-poetry that makes the nar
Adam Ross
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
Definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Strange, ethereal, and downright creepy, Charles Williams (one of the Inklings with C. S. Lewis and Tolkien) was a Christian Platonist and knew how to tell a story. I'm not even sure how to summarize the plot; a young newly wed woman is killed in an airplane crash in London. She dies and is wandering through the archetypal City with a friend (also killed in the crash) who she finds annoying. Meanwhile her widower goes over to a friend's house and see ...more
David Johnston
Aug 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Charles Williams was one of the Inklings and friend of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. You can see Williams' influence on his Oxford friend in Lewis' That Hideous Strength (the last book in Lewis's space trilogy) and in the Great Divorce. He was also friends with T.S Eliot who wrote the preface to this book. This has to be one of the best books Williams wrote and the first chapter is one of the creepiest beginnings I've ever read. Two of the main characters are dead (although they are unaware of ...more
Eli Bishop
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-sff
Charles Williams more or less invented what we'd now call "urban fantasy", and was a huge influence on C.S. Lewis and Tolkien, but his dense, idiosyncratic writing and philosophical/theological obsessions make his books a little daunting. They're all worth the effort, but this one is probably the closest to a successful novel and it's a page-turner too-- sort of the "evil sorcerer, wandering ghosts and star-crossed lovers" story to end all such stories. There are some images that make your heart ...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: This is Charles Williams' last book. Set (and written) just after WWII. A woman and her friend die in a plane accident and leaving her husband and others behind. The story takes a little while to get fully presented. And once it is presented it is pretty straight forward guy trying to take over the world story.

This is a ghost story with a clear christian worldview. This is pre-'christian' fiction era. So it doesn't have a lot of the weaknesses of modern Christian fiction. It is a s
Dec 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like all Williams's novels, All Hallows' Eve meshes a strong plot with profound philosophical and theological meditation. Williams at once affirms the everyday world and the spiritual world behind it. Like the painter, Jonathan, who claims that he paints what he sees though "common observation and plain understanding", Williams would say that he simply writes about what is there. He may even have objected to his books being called "fantasy"--yes, they are tales of ordinary people joining a titan ...more
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Charles Walter Stansby Williams is probably best known, to those who have heard of him, as a leading member (albeit for a short time) of the Oxford literary group, the "Inklings", whose chief figures were C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. He was, however, a figure of enormous interest in his own right: a prolific author of plays, fantasy novels (strikingly different in kind from those of his friends), ...more
More about Charles Williams...
“Why isn't one taught how to be loved? Why isn't one taught anything?” 3 likes
“Sir Joshua Reynolds, said Jonathan, "once alluded to 'common observation and a plain understanding' as the source of all art.” 2 likes
More quotes…