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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful!
The Gargoyle is a difficult book to review and summarize. The plot crosses many genre lines and deals with many issues. That said, here is my attempt.

The novel begins with the narrator getting in a car accident after bingeing on liquor and cocaine. He has a bottle of bourbon between his legs at the time and him and his car go up in flames. He is burned...
Published on Aug. 16 2008 by Teddy

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Gargoyle
I was enticed into reading this book, after all the hype surrounding it and positive reviews promoting this novel, but I was sadly disappointed when I purchased a copy of it. It took me over a week to finish it; and only because I forced myself to get to the end. I did not mind the gory imagery; that was actually the more interesting components of this novel. I neither...
Published on May 5 2011 by TheAvidReader


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful!, Aug. 16 2008
By 
Teddy (Richmond, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
The Gargoyle is a difficult book to review and summarize. The plot crosses many genre lines and deals with many issues. That said, here is my attempt.

The novel begins with the narrator getting in a car accident after bingeing on liquor and cocaine. He has a bottle of bourbon between his legs at the time and him and his car go up in flames. He is burned over most of his body and is in a hospital burn unit for a very long time.

Marianne Engel, a famous sculptress of gargoyles, shows up on his unit one day and tells him that they were lovers in medieval Germany. She claims that he was a mercenary and that she was a scribe. He doesn't really much faith in this claim, but is mesmerized by Marianne.

When he was ready to be released from the hospital he was still going to need continuous care. Normally he would have been sent to a rehab centre, however Marianne volunteers to take him into her home. She has the resources for him to get the care he needs.

This book is richly layered with many themes and symbolism. It is not a book to be read quickly, but rather slowly and contemplatively. One of the major themes is of redemption and there are many references to Dante's Inferno in it.

This book is not for the faint of heart. The burns that the nameless narrator goes through and many other aspects are vividly outlined. Though I don't normally like a book with much gore, it is needed in this book. It's not there to purposely shock the reader, but to inform.

I really liked this book. It has a lot to keep the reader interested and is well researched and written. The stories that Marianne tells are very engaging and were my favorite part of the book.

I only have one complaint. Throughout the book the author refers to Marianne by her full name, Marianne Engel. Her entire name appears several times on the same page. Though this doesn't ruin the book, it is a distraction, at least for me. I have no idea if this was intentional, though for what purpose I can't fathom or if is was in need of better editing. That said, I did read an advance reading copy, so maybe in the final version published this was fixed. I sure hope so.

I highly recommend The Gargoyle and look forward to reading more from Andrew Davidson.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to box this big story, July 21 2012
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This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
It's all there. Some great bits and pieces of lovely useless information. Very unlikely hero. Interesting heroine. Delicious food detail. Diverse and diffirent story line. Just enough mythical dashes. Enjoyed by me and my daughter both. Nothing over cooked. Author should please write full autobiography - loved his story almost as much as the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Gargoyle, May 5 2011
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
I was enticed into reading this book, after all the hype surrounding it and positive reviews promoting this novel, but I was sadly disappointed when I purchased a copy of it. It took me over a week to finish it; and only because I forced myself to get to the end. I did not mind the gory imagery; that was actually the more interesting components of this novel. I neither liked the narrator, nor believed in the heroine, Marianne Engel. I found the stories offered by this heroine to be somewhat entertaining, with always a sort of moral feel to them, but I was not left feeling convinced that these two characters were indeed destined star crossed lovers that have been brought together again, seven centuries later. The descriptive imagery in the novel is well written, but the characters lacked real appeal and believability, and so it was excruciating to read. I would definitely pass purchasing this novel, but if it still interests you, read it from your local library, or borrow it from a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Captivating, Sept. 10 2009
By 
Toni Osborne "The Way I See It" (Montreal, Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
This is one complicated tale that will make you believe in anything. Told skilfully with a first person narration, the author's impressive narrative skills tell an unlikely story of one man's personal quest. Readers are immersed into one wildly romantic, macabre and seductive fantasy.

The novel opens with a horrific car crash, leaving the driver covered in first to fourth degree burns. While recovering in hospital, he is visited by a psychiatric patient, Marianne Engle, who believes they have met before in a previous life. Engle who is officially diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic entertains him with story after story that span lifetimes. Her tales alone will have you turning page after page as Davidson masterfully weaves the stories into our victim's recovery. This amazing tale has great characterization with a descriptive writing technique that paints a rich canvas in ones mind.

This is one intense, gripping, captivating and powerful novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read, Feb. 10 2014
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This review is from: Gargoyle (Paperback)
I borrowed this book from a friend who highly recommended it. I loved it so much I bought a copy and have loaned it out numerous times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "a circle whose centre is everywhere", Oct. 19 2013
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
This novel is a romance, though it’s not your typical boy-meets-girl. More like thirty-something male porn star (burned beyond recognition in a fiery, drug-induced car crash) meets beautiful, wild-haired, schizophrenic sculptress. She comes upon him suicidal and alone in the burn ward of a hospital, and believes him to be her lover from medieval Germany, where she was a nun and he a mercenary soldier. As she unfolds for him the story of their former lives, she draws him in with her words.

Meanwhile, she sculpts gargoyles with an intensity that resembles possession; sleeping naked on a block of stone until it reveals to her what lies within, then labouring manically for days without food or rest until she is able to birth it into the world.

About her creative process she says: “’I’m a vessel that water is poured into and splashes out of. It’s a circle, a flowing circle between God and the gargoyles and me, because that is what God is – a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’”

Equal parts romance and science fiction, The Gargoyle is absolutely compelling.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Truly a unique novel, Nov. 10 2012
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This review is from: Gargoyle (Paperback)
I find myself wanting to tell Marianne's stories over and over. Bought both electronic and print copies so I could share. Graphic and heartwarming. Religious and cynically agnostic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Gargoyle, Jan. 13 2012
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This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
This book was recommended to me. It was a great read. Good characters and great story telling elements made for many surprises. It engendered so many emotions. A good read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book was so hard to put down. It ..., Aug. 21 2014
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
This book was so hard to put down. It is so interesting - I really haven't read another book similar to this since.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love", Aug. 3 2008
By 
Walter Hypes - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
This dark, subversive and heavily allegorical novel weaves myth, legend and Dante's legendary The Inferno into a relentless narrative of hell and friendship, of love and reincarnation. Filled with fervency, action and intrigue, Davidson's novel moves from the 14th-century to the present day and one man's journey to discover the dark depths his inner soul after a devastating accident scars him for life. The story begins as our coke-fuelled narrator drives off a bridge late one night, his burning car falling into a creek, the violent flames eventually extinguished, but not before his flesh is broiled and he is tarnished beyond recognition. Once a self-obsessed and hedonistic porn-star, his glistening body inhabiting a "graceful muscularity," our narrator transforms into a burnt out shell even as "the gaping maw of a snake," lunges at him, laughing while burning his hands and feet and consuming him from head to toe.

It is two months before he wakes from a coma, his body ultimately ravaged, unrecognizable as his former self. Even as he appears as a monster "a thing of engorged flesh suffused with juice," with his manhood now forever severed, images about the accident reel into each other and he cannot help but dream of gargoyles waiting to be born and a tail with one ring deeper into Hell.

While his former associates of the skin trade gradually drift away, unable to cope with the scene before them, he lies in bed, the drip of morphine inhabiting every inch of his spine. Only through his kindly doctor Nan Edwards, his therapist Gregor, and Sayuri, a bubbly Japanese physical therapist, can our narrator hope to pulled back from the brink. Soon enough a mysterious heavily tattooed young woman by the name of Marianne Engel appears in the burn ward door dressed in a light green hospital gown, whispering the word, "Engelthal," and tells him that this is in fact the third time he's been burned.

At first our narrator think she's a lunatic, perhaps even an escapee from the psychiatric ward of the hospital. But Marianne knows the origin of the scar over his heart and she seems have an insight into his very soul, telling him that once upon a time she lived in the 14th century and led a medieval life at the of monastery Engelthal, at the time one of the most important spiritual centers in Germany, where she grew up and was eventually employed as a scribe in the monastery's its scriptorium.

A sort of spirit who invites damaged souls into her home for rebirth, Marianne is convinced that she has been placed in God's service. She rapidly becomes the new woman in our narrator's life, beguiling him with stories of their time together when he was her one true love from a supposed previous life and where he was once a man who was left for dead, but was resurrected buy her. In a narrative that is both fascinating and repellant, Davidson digs deep into the heart of Marianne's past where historical, religious and literary illusions flourish sometimes in the dark pits of hell. In an unexpected reversal of fate, it is only after our narrator's skin is burned away that he finally becomes able to feel: "Only after I was born into physical repulsiveness did I come to glimpse the possibilities of the heart."

Vivid and melodic, The Gargoyle is all about the relationship between art, love and the soul where love can crumble under a few harsh words, or be tossed away with a handful of careless actions and where scars can ultimately make us who we are. Although Davidson's narrative overreaches a bit, especially in the last quarter, the story is always powerful and provocative and in the end shows a fine compassion for the spiritual traumas of burn victims, as well as their injuries and treatment practices. The strength of the novel is the detailed religious imagery and the weaving into the narrative of Dante's The Inferno as well as the two love stories from both centuries which begin to morph into one. Only then do we finally understand the origin of Marianne's strapping and muscular love and why she fanatically sculptures of gargoyles out of blocks of cement even when it becomes detrimental to her own health. But inevitably it is our narrator, with his "atrocious face and abominable body" who must force himself to overcome the limitations of who he is. Only through Marianne and her stories of love and triumph does he find the comfort and strength to continue. Mike Leonard 2008.
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The Gargoyle
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Hardcover - Aug. 5 2008)
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