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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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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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and absorbing, suspend your belief for awhile and enjoy, Dec 18 2008
By 
Betty Gelean "nightreader" (Smithers, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
The Gargoyle Andrew Davidson, a new Canadian author, has debuted with a powerful and absorbing book. A story of love that transcends time and boundaries over 700 years, the book is filled with history, none of it dry. Medical practices from medieval to current times, beliefs of the centuries, everyday life experiences, and brought it all into an almost magical present. The characters are unique but built gradually so the reader can gather the fullness of them. It is written with the voice of one of the two main characters, a rather unsavory film maker and actor at the outset with only his own ambition and looks in his mind. A man detached from normal life, love, and destiny. One thing he does do though, is read deeply and thoroughly.

On drugs and drunk, he has a horrendous car accident which is about to change his life completely. He awakens in a hospital where he finds he is so badly burned that it is a wonder he could wake up at all. His "friends" come and go as quickly as possible. As time passes, a young woman comes in to visit him and one of the first things he notices is that she shows no look of horror at what she sees of his injuries. Instead, she makes the cryptic comment "You've been burned. Again." Rather than the sadness and disgust one might expect to feel during the burn treatments, they are relatively easy to read, well researched, and necessary to the plot. Marianne is a patient in the hospital and it is believed she has psychological disorders... or does she? Attempts to bar her from visiting him in the burn unit are to no avail. He shortly afterward requests every psychology book he can get, particularly relating to schizophrenia, from the psychiatrist who befriends him.

Throughout "The Gargoyle", Marianne visits him, later arranging for him to share her home and accept her for his care and recovery. She relates several stories of her life over the previous seven centuries and about how she came to meet him again and again. There is so much to be learned on many levels from this book and I found it engrossing. Oh yes, there are gargoyles, or more correctly grotesques, but not in the way you might expect. I do not want to put any spoilers in this review, so let it be said that whether fanciful or real, the ending will leave you with questions both answered and unanswered. I have never read a book quite like this but the one thing that is consistent is pure selfless love. Suspend your belief for a while and enjoy this surprising and fascinating debut! My congratulations to Andrew Davidson, this is one extraordinary book.
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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 Nearly impossibe to put down!, Jan. 17 2010
By 
Kat (Winnipeg, MB) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
I had ordered this book mainly because of its good reviews and its ranking as one of the best of the year. Although the synopsis had intrigued me, it also had me worried that this book might not be my cup of tea. So after ordering it, I put off reading it for a while.

I finally decided to pick it up one day. I never have as much time to read as I wish I did; so if a book can't draw me in from the very start and keep me 'spell-bound', I can't bring myself to finish it. I finished The Gargoyle the very next evening. I loved everything about it! I was instantly fascinated by both the narrator's and Marianne's characters and their different (but shared) worlds and views. The stories were so rich in detail that I felt like I was part of them - as an invisible observer - a fly on the wall.

I am not one to choose favorite or least favorite parts of a book. I like to look at it as a whole - if I enjoyed reading it and if it makes a lasting impression. I won't soon forget The Gargoyle.

My only "complaint" is how extensively the particular meals, or rather feasts, that Marianne prepared throughout the story were described by the author. Each time, I was forced to put down the book and wander to my fridge, only to find that there was nothing there that was going to satisfy my appetite. Oh well, at least it reminded me to eat, which I remembered I hadn't since I picked up the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Just read it ......, Dec 2 2009
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
Very few books pull you in like this. When I was finished it , I missed my nameless narrator.

His story begins as a burn victim rehabilitating with the soul purpose to be healthy enough to leave the burn unit to kill himself. Sounds like a barrel of laughs , right? He is angry and rude and don't think that he was any better before the accident. As a porn star and drug addict , this guy is flawed yet I found him interesting and eventually very likable. He has a way of seeing things and seeing people that is direct and honest. When Marianne enters the story you have no idea were this is going. She's nuts, like believes she was a nun in Germany 800 years ago, nuts. Yet she is so confident and persistent, you have to respect her. She also cares for him deeply but with out pity. As their relationship grows , Marianne interweaves stories of their "past" with stories throughout history of great love and sacrifice. They're beautiful stories.

I found myself drawn to these characters. All of them. I read a lot but this book stands out because it has very human characters in a strange fascinating tale. Just read it ..... trust me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Raw, sensuous....a powerful novel, Sept. 11 2009
By 
The Mad Hatter "Seagull Books" (Prince Edward Island, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
"The Gargoyle" is a combination of history, romance, mysticism and intrigue. Written in a unique writing style, the author's seven years of research prior to writing this book has resulted in a one-of-a-kind literary masterpiece. Although the book can be graphic, often close to gory in some parts, the reader becomes completely absorbed in this fantastic tale. The well-developed plot is original, the characters are captivating and the pace holds the reader's attention from start to finish...it never lets go.
,
As one who has read hundreds upon hundreds of literary novels in my lifetime (some not so great, others that will never be forgotten) this one stands near the top of the list of those that are definite "keepers" and never to be forgotten. Hopefully, this book is only the beginning of the author's potential career because indications are he has a promising future head of him. Davidson's writing skills are phenominal and "The Gargoyle" is most highly recommended. Also recommended is "The Forgotten Garden" by Kate Morton, another memorable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book doesnt have to be full of action to be mind blowing., Aug. 25 2010
By 
M. Hoke "loveless" (portland oregon) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
I've been reading all the bad reviews for this book and felt the urge to speak the truth here, yes this book can be very slow, but its not a action movie for cristsakes im tired of everyone complaining that books are to long or "boring" there is no such thing. First off i read books to make me think and for a beautiful story this book did me over and will always stay in my small collection of books i will never get rid of.I cant really speak for the people who think his writing was bad,thats there opinion. Personally i found it to be the most truthfull writing i had ever read you can hear more of Mr. Davidson in this than the main charector but thats part of a good book to me,people put there lives into these things.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!, Sept. 13 2008
By 
Stacey (Markham, ON) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Hardcover)
Given all the hype surrounding the book I was grounded in my feeling that this book would disappoint. I should've had more faith. I loved every page and the story continues to haunt me.

This work was a masterpiece! It is a novel of exquisite proportions given it's messages, symbolism, mysticism and frankly, entertainment value. There is nothing wasted in this book, the prose is glorious, either poetic, useful or engaging. There is no sentence wasted. This is obviously a labour for love for the authour and one of the best books I have ever read.

I originally borrowed the book from the library but I have since purchased my own copy. I need to read it again.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It was alright..., Sept. 23 2009
This review is from: The Gargoyle (Paperback)
When I first began this book, I was really intrigued and found Davidson's writing style to be very unique. I enjoyed the abruptness and sarcastic overtone of the novel - this is what kept me interested. About 3/4 of the way through though, I found that the story began to drag on, and I was wondering when it would pick up again. Eventually it all worked out in the end. After reading the book I remember thinking to myself, "What a weird book!".

If you're into something different, and are interested in reading a book that offers a sarcastically humorous perspective on something that would be so horrible as to be a recovering burn victim, then this is the book for you!

4 Stars - very unique.
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The Gargoyle
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (Hardcover - Aug. 5 2008)
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