“Shadows of Ecstasy” by Charles Williams. Published by William B. Eerdmans Company
In this novel, as in The Place of the Lion, Williams weaves an eerie tale. This novel takes place in England, but starts with an uprising on the African continent instigated by the would-be conqueror of death, Nigel Considine. Roger Ingram, a London University Professor of Applied literature, plays a large part in the story as he relentlessly searches for the source of ecstasy—the source and meaning of death. The eeriness of the search is well punctuated by ritual fires and savage dancing on the Hampstead Heath, the rescue of a Zulu king from supernatural control, and a strange Mass a Lambeth. Mystical experiences, unexpected and unexplained suicides, robbings, murders, and exorcisms are as common as London fog. Williams indeed creates a universe in which the strong weaken, saints doubt, but death finally conquers all.
Behind all this “Riot and Raid” (a chapter heading) Williams depicts the bitter struggle between good and evil. But one searches long and hard for a definition of either term. Even the characterization gives no aid because often no distinction is made between the good and the evil person. Those that some time appear good are not good in the true sense of the word. They do not do good works that proceed form true faith; they do not follow the law of God; but, rather, their good is usually founded upon their own imaginations and/or the institutions of men (Heidelberg Catechism, L.D. XXXIII, Qu. And A. 91).
Since Charles Williams is not sound of doctrine, this book cannot be recommended for young people. Mature adults with strong faith and spiritually discerning minds may enjoy this and other works by Charles Williams.