Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson


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.


Thanks to Doubleday for sending an advance reading copy of this book!
Also reviewed by:

Note to my fellow bloggers who also reviewed this book: If you would like me to link your review at the bottom of my review, please leave a comment with the link to your review.


Teddy, I've been very curious about this book. I'm glad you liked it - great review!

I totally scrolled past your review because I've just started reading it myself! I'm only on about page 50-something but wow,wow,wow, so far.

I've been avoiding reading any reviews. But I've bookmarked this and will be back to see what you have to say about it after I'm done.

Great review Teddy. Since there is so much symbolism maybe the name in full of the scribe is meant to be ME (me)as though she were the author. Just a thought.

I loved this book, too. My review is here

I have been thinking about reading this book since I saw the title.

I am more interested in it now that I read your review. But I think I will until I have tht time and the patience to read it.

Thanks for the review.

Thanks Kristy!


I also held off reading reviews until I finished.

Could be Jan, I hadn't thought of that. Thanks!

Thanks for your review Bermudaoion! I added a link to it at the bottom of my review.

I'll be interested in seeing what you think after you read it Pabast.

Thanks! I've got you linked.

Hi Teddy-
I read this book too. My review is here
I didn't care for it as much as you did but I did find it worth reading.

Thanks Amy! I added it.

Thanks Bermudaonion!

Thanks for the link Teddy. I linked back to you also.

I wasn't sure this was my kind of book, but the more reviews I see the more I think I should've read it when I had the chance!

Great review! I am reading this book right now, and I am really enjoying it. I was glad I had an empty stomach through some of the descriptions of the charred body.

To answer your question, the finished copy still refers to Marianne as "Marianne Engel". I don't find it annoying; just odd.

Thanks Diane! I'll be interested to know your thoughts when your done reading it. I'm glad your enjoying it so far.

Teddy, Great review. FYI, the jacket was changed. You can pull the current image from Amazon.


I always try to use the cover that was on the book that I read, even if it was an ARC.

Did Doubleday send out 1000 ARC's of this book or what? I'm floored by the number of reviews I've read already on a book that just came out. Glad to see that most of the press has been positive-- Davidson must be tickled pink.

I've reviewed the book now and can finally read your review. I agree with you totally. I loved the book.

There plot was so layered that it is very hard to describe. There is also so much symbolism that I probably missed half of it.

I saw a brief interview with him on the news last night and apparently Davidson has broken some sort of record for a Canadian writer selling rights to the US.


I'm trying to remember how I got the ARC. I either got an email from the publisher or got it through an ad on Shelf Awareness. I recieved a lot of ARC's that month. I do think that you may like this one.


I think I could read it a couple more times and find even more meaning in it.

I thought from your comments on my blog that we had different thoughts on a book for once, but we both gave it four out of five!

I did really enjoy it, perhaps I just point out the flaws a bit too much, and should write a few more positives in future.

I'm not sure if this is the reason, but Engel means angel in German. Is she the angel Mary?


My biggest grip was that he kept using her first and last name all the time.

However, going to your question, yes, it does mean angel. He kept usunig her last name to emphasis this and he felt she deserved the respect of using the first and last name. This was a question that I had asked him at the event.

He also did a book signing and due to my question, he asked if I was by chance Teddy Rose. That blew me away! He had read my review.

Thanks for the great reveiw. I have linked to it from my review.

Heather, your welcome and thanks for the link. I just added your link here.

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