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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,688 ratings  ·  546 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 - a man who led him to the things that underlie the fate of all creation. Lilith is considered among the darkest of MacDonald's works, and among th
Paperback, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Borgo Press (first published November 27th 1895)
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Meg Powers Oh wow, I didn't see this question, sorry. I read this so long ago and have more recently read Phantastes and his collection of fairy tales, so my con…moreOh wow, I didn't see this question, sorry. I read this so long ago and have more recently read Phantastes and his collection of fairy tales, so my context for Lilith may be totally different now- I've actually been meaning to re-read it, so maybe then I'll have an anaswer. As it is, I'm kind of surprised my review of it was so lukewarm- I remember loving it. (less)
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. BarrieA Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
Pre-Tolkien Fantasy
307 books — 312 voters
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.The Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellHis Dark Materials by Philip PullmanThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisDune by Frank Herbert
SF & Theology
226 books — 349 voters

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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,688 ratings  ·  546 reviews

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Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I was 2, my wonderful grandmother visited our little postwar stucco bungalow out on the fringes of our little former lumber town.

My grandmother believed in magic - White Magic. Back then she was like a Fairy Grandmother to me...

One day during her visit, she took me by the hand and led me down to our unfinished basement. All she said to me was - ‘Today we’re going to visit the Zoo.’

And she somehow, within my own private tiny toddler’s headspace, had suddenly transformed our little subterrane
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 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 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 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
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written as a fantasy novel with much spiritual wisdom and insight;
George MacDonal in his companion of "phantastes", again achieved to render with "Lilith" a remarkable piece of literature which will hunt relentlessly your dreams and don't have mercy for the boundaries of your imagination!!!!

In brief a few words about MacDonal himself: A poet, Scottish author and a Christian minister.
he lived from 10 December 1824 to 18 September 1905....
A prolific writer and after an exciting and eventful life w
Karly Noelle White
Mar 25, 2011 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
Christopher Bunn
Aug 02, 2012 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
Meg Powers
Mar 01, 2010 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
Amanda G. Stevens
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jul 15, 2010 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. Yes,
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 plots or his writing style. Read him for his characters, the curiosity
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookcase
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 tons of good will to push onwards when the sentences becom
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 & style of this book that are
Love of Hopeless Causes
It's hard to weird me out, and being so bizarro as to have exceeded my comprehension level is a rare feat. If I could finish this it would probably be a four star. 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.
Mar 16, 2008 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. ...more
Dec 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, christian
This was a beautiful story for the most part. There were some things that I didn't agree with or thought were rather strange, (for one thing, MacDonald believed that even the Devil would repent and be saved in the end), but it was still a very worthwhile read with many gems of spiritual truth. Since this is the third of his books I've read in a short time, I'm starting to see a lot of recurring themes, which is very interesting! Perhaps my very favorite quote was this one about prayer...I love t ...more
Aug 17, 2013 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 myths that I have ever read. His fantastic worlds are wholly original and inspired.
Aug 09, 2009 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 12, 2012 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 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.
Matthew Hodge
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2010 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
Apr 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
MacDonald was a big influence on C.S. Lewis, as many know. Lewis acknowledges this in the preface to this edition. MacDonald was a universalist, which is quite apparent in reading Lilith. The entire premise of the book requires one to enter a world where universalism is presupposed. Universalism, at least the MacDonald version of it, believes that all people will eventually bow the knee to Christ in faith, repent, believe, and enter into the New Heavens and the New Earth. MacDonald even argues t ...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
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 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, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not since studying Flannery O'Connor have I read anything so bewildering and mesmerizing at the same time. But with O'Connor I had a college professor explaining some of the most confusing images.

George MacDonald does a masterful job of weaving important themes into this fantasy novel: life, death, sin, redemption, dreams and reality, but I was often confused with the symbolism. What did the white leopard represent? the spotted leopard? the white princess? the shadow? the children? Occasionally
Dec 21, 2007 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
Nov 04, 2015 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 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!
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George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.

He was educated at Aberdeen University and after a short and stormy career as a minister at Arundel, where his unorthodox views led to his dismissal, he turned to fiction as a means of earning a living. He wrote over 50 books.

Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, MacDonald inspired many authors, such

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