The Gargoyle — Review

July 29, 2012

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

What to say about The Gargoyle? Where do I begin?

As fair warning, I feel I should say that this review may contain spoilers. It might not. I really can’t tell. I don’t think I’ve given anything major away, but… I don’t even know anymore.

This book was bizarre. It was raw and sometimes gratuitous and I often didn’t really like the narrator at all. But I think that was kind of the point. Before his accident, the narrator of The Gargoyle is a shell of a human being. A beautiful, sexually versed shell, but a shell nonetheless.

I’ll give Davidson credit where credit is due. This isn’t the typical story of a cynic learning to live and love after losing everything in an accident. That is kind of what happens, but it does not happen in the most expected of ways.

I enjoyed reading The Gargoyle. The story moved along really well and it was definitely intriguing. My problem with it, I guess, is that I kind of wish the characters were switched. The narrator is never that interesting of a protagonist to me.  I was much more interested in Marianne Engel, the woman who mysteriously appears at his hospital bedside and takes over his care once he is released. Marianne gets the narrator interested in things again by telling him stories. She tells him about some of her friends — an iron-worker who died while the Black Death ravaged Florence, a Japanese woman who became a Buddhist nun and allowed herself to be buried alive to save both her father and her true love, and a Viking who never married, but died to show his devotion, to name a few. She also tells him all about their previous love affair in medieval Germany.

Marianne also carves huge gargoyles out of stone. It’s a crazy process. She sleeps on the stone and the gargoyle trapped within speaks to her and says what it’s supposed to look like and then she starts carving. She believes that she has an abundance of hearts and that she gives one to each gargoyle she creates. But she only has so many left, and when they’re gone, she will die.

Are you starting to see why I find her to be a much more interesting character? Even if she’s totally bonkers and hasn’t lived for however many centuries (likely), how did she come up with these delusions? They’re so realistic. And how does she have her gift with languages? And what if she isn’t insane and has been wandering the world for years? What has she been doing in the interval? Who has she met? What has she learned? She’s still kind of crazy, actually, even if the being alive for centuries thing isn’t a delusion, so how does all that fit in? What’s with the heart thing? How many did she start out with? Davidson, I see a companion piece in your future!

OK, so this was less of a review and more of me rambling like an idiot and asking questions that will probably never be answered, but there you have it. The above is probably why I put off writing this for so long: I had a feeling it would turn out like this and I wanted to postpone the inevitable. Alas.

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