Anodos (whose name means 'the way upwards', 'ascent' or 'enlightenment') has inherited, on his twenty-first birthday, the keys to an old desk in which he finds a secret compartment.
When he has opened it, a tiny woman appears, as if from the space within, and, soon after, he finds himself in fairyland.
Phantastes, a Faerie Romance is a fairy tale for grown-ups by George MacDonald, who was an inspiration to C. S. Lewis, (in Surprised by Joy Lewis tells of the transformation this book worked upon him when he found it on a book-stand in a railway station).
He also influenced Charles Williams, David Lindsay, J. R. R. Tolkien, W.H. Auden, Madeleine L'Engle and several generations of enchanted readers.
Many may have read unawares George Macdonald's words in the work of C.S.Lewis, who once wrote, "I have never concealed the fact that I regarded Macdonald as my master, indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him."
Singled out as "great works" by Lewis were: Phantastes, The Curdie Books, The Golden Key, The Wise Woman and Lilith.