MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Gargoyle

by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson X
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 480 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Stacey Brownlie
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

BookBrowse:


The Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible

The Gargoyle is one of those books that will thoroughly annoy some readers, while leading others practically panting to convince their friends to read it. It has received an unusual amount of pre-publication press, particularly for a first-time novelist, and it is ambitious in its content, spanning centuries and locales. Then there is the range of subject matter: correlations to Dante's Inferno, combined with tales of a medieval scriptorium, mixed into the daily life of a modern day burn victim who was a former porn king. Is it any surprise then, that this book already has plenty of detractors as well as ardent fans?

The novel opens with a strong hook. The first person narrator, who is also the story's protagonist, describes his horrendous (and utterly stupid) car accident – a crash caused by drugs and alcohol and a vision of burning arrows. After a brief anecdotal diversion into the history of the middle ages, readers are whisked with the narrator from the scene of the accident to the hospital burn unit where he will spend about a third of the book. While the narrator is treated for his many injuries, he contemplates an elaborate suicide, planning to end his life as soon as he is released from the hospital. But a strange woman arrives one day – the narrator's first and only visitor – who eventually changes his mind.

This woman, Marianne Engel, is portrayed as physically tempting, yet possibly mentally unstable. She acts as if she has known the narrator for years and even lifetimes at their first meeting. She tells elaborate and subtly linked love stories. She carves grotesques and gargoyles which are sold to the rich. She speaks multiple languages and translates ancient texts. She brings ridiculous feasts of international delicacies to the hospital and dotes on a dog named after a Greek pastry. It is through Marianne that the novel's narrator finds genuine love, a plot piece that Davidson does nothing to conceal, since the story's suspense is found elsewhere.

From the opening pages, author Andrew Davidson has no qualms about offering his readers graphic detail. The Gargoyle contains numerous stomach-turning descriptions of the protagonist's agony during his recovery, as well as frank discussion about the world of pornography. Even Davidson's descriptions of Marianne Engel's artistic gargoyle-carving frenzies can disconcert. This tendency toward the gross may dissuade some readers, but most will recognize Davidson's intentional use of grotesque realism to unify his fantasy. In this book, as in life, the line between beautiful and disgusting is often blurred.

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 predictable, cannot be called conventional and a rogue narrator that manages to win over the reader despite his bad behavior.

Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in August 2008, and has been updated for the September 2009 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Delayed Rays of a Star
    by Amanda Lee Koe
    Amanda Lee Koe's Delayed Rays of a Star begins with a late-1920s photo of three women at a party in ...
  • Book Jacket: Sleepovers
    Sleepovers
    by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips
    In Ashleigh Bryant Phillips' debut story collection, Sleepovers, it can be difficult to keep tabs on...
  • Book Jacket
    The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    by Christy Lefteri
    In Christy Lefteri's sophomore novel, The Beekeeper of Aleppo, the author introduces readers to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Cantoras
    by Carolina De Robertis
    Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis follows five characters who share a house, troubles, joys and parts...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Voyage of the Morning Light
    by Marina Endicott

    A sweeping novel set aboard a merchant ship sailing through the South Pacific in 1912.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Of Bears and Ballots

An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics

A charming account of holding local office with an entertaining, quirky cast of characters.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A S Louder T W

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.