For anyone who thinks a trip to fairyland would be a fun romp, George MacDonald’s Phantastes (1858) serves a sobering reminder: fairyland is a dangerous place. It’s filled with all manner of threats lurking just beyond view, or even hiding behind that object right in front of you, which you think is so beautiful.
The story recounts the travails of a young man, Anodos, as he journeys across a fairy landscape. He meets a murderous tree, a fallen knight, and a sleeping beauty, while he is being haunted by his own shadow.
Now more than 150 years old, this book harkens back to the arcane in style as well as substance. It’s not necessarily a breezy read, and it isn’t an example of typical modern storytelling. But readers who dare venture with Anodos into this fantastical land will certainly not return unchanged.
Best for: Adult readers.
Discern: Few overt Christian elements appear in the story, and MacDonald himself had some arguably unorthodox theological ideas that readers may want to discuss.