The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers 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 suicidefor 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 lifeand, 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 completeand her time on earth will be finished.
Already an international literary sensation, the Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible.
The Gargoyle is, above all, entertaining. Davidson's work of seven years is the kind of pleasure reading that is hard to find: fantasy and suspense combined with intelligent research and strong writing. The pace slows a bit too much during some of Marianne's narrative diversions but, on the whole, the novel is a successful page turner. The Gargoyle is sometimes raw, sometimes delicately detailed. It offers a modern and historic love story that, though predicable, cannot be called conventional and a rogue narrator that manages to win over the reader despite his bad behavior. (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Entertainment Weekly - Gregory Kirschling
This much-hyped book is eye-bulgingly atrocious, packed with medieval history to disguise prose that's worse than your average Dungeons & Dragons blog.
New York Times - Janet Maslin
At the start of The Gargoyle, a transportingly unhinged debut novel by Andrew Davidson, the book’s caustic narrator explains the fiery accident that destroyed what had once been his extremely beautiful body.
So for all those who enter here, there is no need to abandon hope. Lessons are learned, love is found, spirits are restored, and faith is revealed, all in the overheated cauldron of Mr. Davidson’s imagination.
A romance spanning centuries and continents finds a grotesque narrator redeemed by the love of a woman who claims they first met seven centuries earlier, in this deliriously ambitious debut novel. This spellbinding narrative [is] a credit to the craftsmanship of the Canadian writer
"Once launched into this intense tale of unconventional romance, few readers will want to put it down."
Storytelling at its finest, featuring a lively assortment of characters and events that combine in a gripping drama that will keep readers’ attention through the very last page. An essential summer book; highly recommended.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by joe loved it This book was a real good read, one of the best I've ever read. The constant hooks, the reality of being chared in a fire, the stages of hell were all just awesome
Rated of 5
by Anike Creepy good! I absolutely loved the story! It is dark and strange but draws you in as if you are looking into someone's intimate life and know you should look away but you can't stop staring.
Can't wait to read his next book!
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth Different, but good "Everyone's past, I try to rationalize, is nothing more than the collection of memories they choose to remember"...pages 487 and 488...paperback edition.
A porn star burned in a car crash, a wealthy schizophrenic, undying friendships,... Read More
Rated of 5
by GrannyGrad Mesmerizing I can't quite understand the one bad review, as this is absolutely one of the best books I've read lately...and I've read plenty of good books. The characters are well-defined, the plot is different from anything I've ever read before, and it is... Read More
Rated of 5
by Matthew Shadows Poor Book I absolutely do not recommend this book to anyone unless they like to waste their time on reading nothing intriguing.
Rated of 5
by Jennifer S. Brooks Touched by the Inferno Unfolding like cake batter being poured into a pan, The Gargoyle immediately draws the reader to a man, who should be pitiful, but somehow is not. A man who is repeatedly saved – from an unfulfilling life as a drug-addicted porn star, from a... Read More
Grotesques vs Gargoyles The theme of the grotesque
is prominent in The Gargoyle. Marianne, a stone
carver, educates the narrator on the difference between
gargoyles and grotesques: A gargoyle is a decorated water
spout, from the French word gargouille from which the verb gargle originates; whereas a grotesque can be decorative or weight supporting,
but is never a water spout. The Cornell University
Library provides a good
summation on the topic and a
gallery of gargoyles and grotesques, while this
website provides a leisurely video tour around the
grotesques of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.
The grotesque in literature brings to mind Flannery
O'Conner, Edgar Allen Poe and other diverse authors. Joyce
Carol Oates discusses the grotesque's use in literature and
here. The grotesque in art is difficult to define, as
shown by the University of Chicago's
article on the topic, because...
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