The Place of the Lion
The Place of the Lion is one of seven "supernatural thrillers" (to borrow T S Eliot's description) by Charles Williams. The narrative unfolds around a chain of odd circumstances in the English countryside. With the series of strange occurrences, the world threatens to unravel. It eventually becomes clear what is happening — Platonic archetypes are beginning to show through the thin veil that separates the world of Ideas from our daily existence, and our world is too flimsy to really bear up under the pressure of hosting such striking instances of the Real.
The more frightening part of the narrative comes in the form of watching what it does to humans to be faced with these archetypes made flesh. Some seem to go a bit mad, some are taken up in ecstasy, and in others, various flaws big and small are brought to light. The relationship between Anthony and Damaris is at the center of the story, and the growth these two young people undergo, along with their friend Quentin, makes for a cohesive, compelling tale.
The concepts contained in The Place of the Lion are fairly dense (as in nearly any book by Williams), and it is probably a book really targeted at readers who like a good intellectual challenge with their entertainment. If you are at all that type of reader, then The Place of the Lion is a book you won't want to miss, because it is really loaded with material to engage the mind. At the same time, it is a book that puts the thrill into "thriller," because the weightiness of the topics make one feel that these problems absolutely must be addressed, and that the good absolutely must win out over the starkness of the evils represented — all of reality as we know it seems to depend on it.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2012