Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson


"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 suicide - for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul." A beautiful and compelling, put 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

My Review:

The Gargoyle is a strangely compelling novel that I found hard to put down. Although I thought some of the details in some scenes were a little  too graphic, especially in the beginning, I really enjoyed reading it.

The Gargoyle starts with an unnamed narrator being horribly burned in a car crash. From there, we meet the other characters along the way who help the narrator heal physically and spiritually. The most important help comes from Marianne, a women with possibly schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder, who befreinds the severely depressed narrator  in the hospital. Marianne claims that they were lovers in the 1300s, a claim which instantly hooked me. I wanted to know more!

Marianne tells the narrators stories, both of herself and their life earlier and the stories of other lovers in history. I loved the stories of the different lovers and where they were in history. Their own story was nice but a little lackluster compared to the other stories.

Marianne also reads the narrator Dante' The Inferno and the narrator relates to Dante's version of Hell throughout his recovery, especially when he is weaned off of his morphine. The relation to The Inferno added an extra layer of depth to the two lovers story which I really liked.

The story was well written and the love stories were beautiful. I may be a gushing little girl when I say this, but the love stories were by far my favorite part. The sections that took part in the modern day were good but not as fascinating as the historical sections. However, the narrators progress through his burn recovery was obviously well researched and described. Overall I highly recommend this book as an enjoyable and fairly quick read as long as you're not offended by drug use or some explicit details.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


  1. I've seen this book in stores and could never decide whether to get it or not. However, your review has me wanting to read it now. The idea of lovers from the 1300s being reunited in present day is really intriguing...even if the story is only the imaginings of a mentally ill woman. Great review!

  2. The Gargoyle is one of my favorite books. I agree with you, their love story was beautiful.