I actually read The Gargoyle years ago, but I was rifling through my bookshelf the other day and came across it. I quite enjoyed the book – it was such an original story. And that cover! The cover was the first thing that drew me to the book and I just kept going back to it again and again in the bookshops until the day I finally picked it up.
The Gargoyle tells the story of an unnamed narrator – a cynical, shallow porn star – who is on a coke and bourbon bender while driving one night (don’t try this at home, kids) when he sees what he thinks is a volley of burning arrows shooting out of the woods at him. Trying to avoid these arrows, he crashes his car into a ravine and suffers devastating burns all over his body. Alone, friendless and undergoing a hellish recovery in a burns ward, all he can think of is getting well enough to kill himself. But one day, a mysterious beautiful sculptress appears in his hospital room and tells him they were lovers in a past life where he also suffered burns. Slowly, she spins him the tale of their past life, captivating him while adding him in his recovery back to life and love.
The Gargoyle is a sweet love tale, interspersed with readings of Dante’s Inferno – the main theme of the story, other than love, is Hell – and some particularly
hellish nightmarish descriptions of the unnamed narrator’s recovery from his burns. I don’t know much about burns recovery, but from reading this book it feels as if Davidson has really done his research. One thing’s for sure, whenever I find myself unsatisfied with my looks, I remember The Gargoyle and how lucky I am to have a healthy, working body! No complaints here!
Though there’s this grand, timeless romance between the unnamed narrator and his beautiful sculptress, I have to admit that I’m much more fond of the book’s secondary characters, Gregor and Sayuri. They just feel so much more developed, particularly Sayuri, and more relatable, whereas the narrator and the sculptress just felt a little too unreal and also, well, a little too self-absorbed. Probably in real life, if you’d met them, you’d find them a tad annoying. (I also seriously have my doubts as to whether their love would survive in an ordinary relationship without any dramas hanging over them. Somehow, I don’t think so). Andrew Davidson hasn’t written another book since The Gargoyle, but if he did, I’d like him to tell Sayuri and Gregor’s story. ( I love that Sayuri isn’t just your typical meek Japanese girl – girl’s got spunk.)
All in all, if you’re looking for a sweet love story, with some tear-inducing moments, this is the book for you. A story that is as beautiful as its cover.