- The Golden Key and Other Stories © 1980
- 165 pages
Eerdmans has done the modern world a fine service by collecting the short fantasy stories of George MacDonald into four volumes. The Golden Key and Other Fantasy Stories is the second of the four I’ve read (Here’s my review of The Wise Woman and Other Fantasy Stories).
This volume was a bit more of a mixed bag. The good stories were very good while the weak stories simply had to be endured. Here are the stories:
- “The Golden Key” (1867 from Dealings With Fairies)
- “The History of Photogen and Nycteris” (1879 from Graphic)
- “The Shadows” (1864 from Adela Cathcart)
- “The Gifts of the Child Christ” (1882 from The Gifts of the Child Christ, and Other Tales)
The title story is strong. It’s as a classic quest tale that evokes that sense of otherness MacDonald is so good at. “The History of Photogen and Nycteris” is another fine story. What happens when a young woman who has only ever known night meets a young man who has only ever known daylight? I can’t help but think that some of MacDonald’s descriptions of the woman encountering daylight for the first time informed C. S. Lewis’ short story, “The Man Born Blind”.
“The Shadows,” while interesting in concept, failed to sustain my interest. The last story is not even a work of fantasy, but a morality tale about an irritating servant.
All that said, I would re-buy this book in a heartbeat on the strength of either of the first two longer stories.