Descent Into Hell by Charles Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Charles the Inkling Williams. Wow. I've been planning on reading him for some time, but had been hesitant due to mixed reviews from unnamed persons. Upon finding Frank Peretti upon their shelves, I happily heaved their advice overboard and bought the first Williams I could find, which happened to be Descent Into Hell.
/>Reviewing this book is hard. It's a type of Supernatural Realism with a heavy dose of Mythical Faerie, and blended with some of the most superb, even sublime prose that I've encountered. Nothing really happens in the book, even with a succubus and opened graves, nothing really happens. You feel, at alternating chapters, as if you're walking either up a flight of stairs into an open vista of a far green country bordered by breakers curled like a lover's wet hair, or as if you're walking down a flight of stairs into a cellar of unnamed and unknown horrors with a whispered voice hissing "mad, mad, you are mad..."
There are two truly "main" characters, and then there are a handful of peripheral characters and one central character. There are two, yea verily even three timelines coinciding; there is Lilith and Death, there is Poetry and Life. There is the Real, and there is the Fake; Zion and Gomorrah, and I could explain the entire book without giving a single thing away.
The only explanation for Williams being as unknown as he is is two-fold: either this is by far his best work, or he was simply overshadowed by the vast output of Lewis and the incomparable genius of Tolkien. But this book is so very worth the read. I'll be adding him to my shelves as often as I find him.
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