Charles Williams, 1947
What a creepy story.
Two women are caught in a twilight world between the living and the dead in post-WWII London. A third woman can move between these worlds. She is a pawn in a sinister cult figure’s plan of domination over all worlds.
This story was engaging and played well to my love of vintage urban fantasy, similar to C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy – no surprise since the author was a contemporary and associate of Lewis.
However, the only print edition I could find was a print-on-demand version that was filled with typos (nearly every page), which, combined with the author’s convoluted syntax, resulted in my skimming through a lot of the deep philosophical passages. If I could have gotten past these obstacles more effectively I would probably be writing now about the rich use of symbolism (water, light, etc). (Cover photo is not the version I obtained.)
There is an anti-Semitic theme, as the bad guy is a Jewish magician / alchemist and unfavorable references to his Jewishness are frequent. That was unsettling, especially considering that the story takes place in post-WWII London.
I read this mainly for its milieu but I doubt if very many others without my love of this ‘type’ would stick it out. Given a do-over though, I would read it again. Four stars for such masterfully creepy storytelling. (Really – very creepy.) Minus one star for what appeared to be anti-Semitism, for a net of three stars.