Friday, 26 August 2011

The Gargoyle: A Story Telling Triumph!


An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time. 

The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept ... As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows, causing him to crash his car and suffer horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul. 

A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished. 

The Gargoyle
has been on my to-read list since it was first published back in 2008, and I am so glad that I finally decided to pick it up and give it a try! This is Andrew Davidson's first novel, and it is evident straight from the beginning that he put quite a lot of thought and research into his writing. The Gargoyle is one of those novels that skirts around the border that separates history and fantasy, and I absolutely loved the way that he adapted stories about famous people like Dante to fit into his work. At the end of the novel both the narrator and readers are left wondering whether Marianne's past was fact or simply the fantasy of a mentally unstable woman.


Despite the doubts regarding Marianne's past, she quickly became my favourite character due to the time  spent listening to her spin tales of deathless love. I thought that these interweaving of stories within the plot was a genius idea on the part of Davidson, and I craved more and more of them as The Gargoyle went on. I soon began to feel as if the action in between Marianne's storytelling was inadequate simply because I was desperate to hear more from her. Her stories made me feel like I was curled up in front of a fire listening to an old friend speak about love.

While I may have loved the history and storytelling aspects of The Gargoyle, it is not without its faults. The heavy subject matter and constant use of symbolism may make this novel difficult for some readers to enjoy. I myself found it a struggle to get through at times, especially during slow points in the plot, but I think that the effort was worth the read in the end! It's difficult for me to think of another book to compare The Gargoyle to, which I believe really highlights how unique a story it is. If you don't mind a book that makes you work a little then I definitely recommend you give The Gargoyle a try! 

Rating: 4 Stars

4 comments:

Rachel Brooks said...

This is such a gorgeous cover! Thanks for the recommendation. I hope you’re having an awesome weekend!

Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :) http://rachelbrookswrites.blogspot.com/

Jenny said...

I loved this one but due to the subject matter I felt like I couldn't recommend it. I never know who'll be offended at what. I thought it was beautiful, even the bittersweet ending.

Ikhlas said...

Wow sounds really interesting! I've seen this book around for a few years now, but have never looked it up to know what its about. So glad I did that now...I might pick it up!

Natalie said...

Jenny: Ya the subject matter for this book can be a little bit sensitive for some readers...especially when it comes to religion....which is something I should have mentioned in my review. I come from a hardcore Catholic family and I can see some of them being offended, but I try to keep an open mind when I'm reading.

Rachel: Thanks for becoming a follower! :)

Ikhlas: You should definitely pick it up :)

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