Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Gargoyle

From the official website:
The nameless and beautiful narrator of The Gargoyle is driving along a dark road when he is dazzled by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned. He is now a monster. His life is over.

But it is only just beginning: one day, Marianne Engel, a wild and bewitching sculptress of gargoyles, walks into his room and reveals that they were once lovers in Medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly burned mercenary, and she, a nun and a scribe, nursed him back to health in the famed monetary of Engelthal. As she spins her tale, 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, to love.
The Gargoyle is an extraordinary novel that will take you on a wild and original journey. It will have you believing in love, in miracles and in redemption.
My two cents worth:
First of all, I'd like to vote Canongate’s edition of The Gargoyle with best book cover of the year, hands down. That was what attracted me to the book when I first set my eyes on it. My colleague carried the book into the office one day like it was the latest fashion accessory of the season (FYI, he’s the type that can carry a stinking trash can and make it look like the latest thing in fashion). It also didn’t help that he was raving about the book being ‘unputdownable’. I just had to have it.
Shortly after, I called every bookstore in town to get my hands on the same edition. Luckily for me, Times Bookstore had ONE copy of the edition that I badly wanted. By the weekend, it was my hip fashion accessory, well the bookworm’s version of a hip accessory when I carry it that is (unfortunately unlike my colleague, I’m far from fashion savvy).
The plus point other than the beautiful cover, you wonder? It was an amazing read, so it’s not just pretty on the outside. I have yet to come across a book that combines unspeakable or shall I say taboo subject matters and romance rolled into one. I thought it was excellent for a first novel, the author’s story telling methods were unique. It was well researched and brought a sense of realism to the character’s suffering as a severe burn victim. I also found the tone and language used suitable for the cynical and intelligent main character. Plus, the character and plot development was revealed in a pace that I was comfortable with and I found the storytelling style mesmerizing.

The story goes- after an accident caused by drug induced hallucinations the main character was terribly burned and disfigured. Whilst recovering in the hospital, a lady called Marianne Engel whom he had never met before visits him and tells him that they knew each other from 700 hundred years ago. Intriguing? Yes but NOT until she starts telling stories from the past which really kept me up till late at night, impatiently turning the pages while the clock strikes another full hour without my much needed beauty sleep. The gothic tales of romance spanning centuries were beautifully told, gives it an epic feel and makes it memorable.

I love the first line from the book, “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.” which you can only truly appreciate once you’ve read the book. The Gargoyle is original, unlike any novel that I’ve ever read (and I’m open to any recommendations of other books that might carry a similar feel). Definitely a recommended read.
Kudos to Andrew Davidson for such a grand first novel and kudos to the marketing team; I found the book design and website to be consistent and reflects The Gargoyle’s style perfectly.

For more information, visit the official website at


Leon Wing said...

I bought this book, too. It was better-looking and definitely cheaper than the American hardback.

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