by George MacDonald

At one point in time, this was my favorite book in the world. (This was, of course, before I read Stranger in a Strange Land. George MacDonald was C.S. Lewis’ absentee mentor, which was pretty much good enough for me, but Lilith in particular of MacDonald’s stories is a protypical vampiress tale (though the term “vampire” is never used), published between Carmilla and Dracula (and therefore not derivative of the genre they spawned). Those of you who know me well know that I was a self-styled vampiress afficianado, and I think Lilith is what set me down that path.

As a vampiress story and a Christian allegory, I think I still like Lilith quite a bit, though Lewis’ The Last Battle is a better allegory, and there are a number of better vampiress stories on film (at least to my taste). As a book in general, my attention span is much flightier these days, especially when most of my reading is being done on break at work. Lilith was slow, especially in its beginning, and sometimes frustrating for me.

One idea in the book I really liked (though I’m not sure if it was actually in the book, or if I imposed it) was Lilith’s ability to assume the form of a leopardess by possessing its body, leaving an inanimate statue of it behind. It was as if she borrowed its form by stealing its spirit from its body, instead of stealing the body from the spirit, though in the after-life world in Lilith, distinguishing body and spirit are difficult.