4 Stars Out Of 5
Book was a work of art, but the story was a little slow
July 29, 2015
I have been trying to expand my reading choices lately by dabbling into fiction more and more. I generally prefer to stick to nonfiction, but I know it will be good for me to broaden my horizons. Of the fiction I read, I try to stick with works that have stood the test of time. That puts me at a bias against recent works, but I just find so much more beauty in older works. One author I have recently been introduced to is George MacDonald. MacDonald was a Scottish minister, poet, novelist, and was dubbed the "grandfather" of the Inklings. Now, you see my interest in his work. Today, I am reviewing the book Phantastes, which is produced by Hendrickson Publishers.
For those unfamiliar with Phantastes, like I was, it is a fantasy novel about a 21 year old man named Anodos. On his birthday, he received a set of keys to his deceased father's desk. Within this desk a small woman who claims to be Anodos' grandmother. She grants his wish to send him to Fairy Land, but his reasons for going are not revealed to the reader until the end of the story. Through his travels in Fairy Land, Anodos encounters a lot of strange people and places. He meets a woman and her daughter who try and help him with advice, but of course he quickly forgets it when he leaves their company. He meets and frees the White Lady, whom he falls in love with, and a Knight, whom he befriends. He also encounters many battles and hardships. All of these are important in helping Anodos mature and stop acting like a child and more like an adult, because that is apparently the only way he will ever return home. So what was his reasoning for wanting to go to Fairy Land, and will he ever be able to leave this place and go home? Buy the book to find out!
The book is a classic coming of age story with Anodos going on the somewhat epic tale to adulthood. There are times when the story drags and is bogged down with details, and I wouldn't consider this George MacDonald's best work. That privilege, in my mind, belongs to "The Princess and the Goblin." As for the quality of this particular edition, it is breathtaking. The book looks to be an average sized hardcover, but when you pick it up, it feels heavy in a good way. I attribute this to the quality of paper used. The book contains scanned and digitally colored versions of the original illustrations, which MacDonald's son approved of. This gives the book that old time feel it so desperately deserves. So if you are a MacDonald fan, or want to see some of the inspiration for the Inklings and their writings, I'd recommend this book to you.