5 stars This story was first published in 1872 and is well worth the read over a hundred years later. (This book also has a sequel: The Princess and Curdie) MacDonald has woven together a brilliant fairy tale. I read the book to my children, but like any good fairy tale found myself enjoying it more than them at points. Complete with dreams and visions, goblins and escapes, love and heroism; it is a book filled with truth. If you are looking for a delightful and fun read that draws attention to what is good - pick up this story.
As W.H. Auden wrote, "To me, George MacDonald's most extraordinary, and precious, gift is his ability, in all his stories, to create an atmosphere of goodness about which there is nothing phony or moralistic. Nothing is rarer in literature."
MacDonald was also one who had a huge influence on C.S. Lewis as seen in these quotes:
"I know nothing that gives me such a feeling of spiritual healing, of being washed, as to read G. MacDonald." from The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves
"I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him." from the preface of George MacDonald: An Anthology by Lewis
For those of you who know Lewis' writings you may recall it is MacDonald who Lewis interacts with in The Great Divorce. Also, in a later introduction that Lewis wrote for MacDonald's Phantastes he states: "What it [Phantastes] actually did to me was convert, even to baptise my imagination."