Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"The Gargoyle" - Andrew Davidson

This novel has been called fantasy, modern Gothic, romance, and Christian lit. After the first 20 pages, I wondered what the hell I was doing. After the first 100 pages, I wondered how I could have questioned the author's voice.

Because it's the voice that overwhelms you at first. The narrator, a pornographer (director, producer, and actor), high off coke and doped by alcohol, veers off the road and down a steep embankment. Fire consumes his car and his skin. He plans on making it through therapy to be able to commit suicide.

Then, Marianne Engel appears at his bedside, smirking that he's been burned "again." Again, meaning he'd been burned in a past life that the two of them shared as lovers. She knows about his scar from birth, as well as his thoughts. Marianne also knows a lot about the 1340s because she claims to have lived in a nunnery and transcribed a book similar to Dante's "Inferno." However, after their first meeting, he finds that she is a patient from the psychiatric ward.

Upon her release, Marianne dedicates herself to his recovery, telling him stories of love in Italy, Iceland, England, and Japan. He begins to fall under her spell, even though he also considers her either schizophrenic or bipolar.

Is she? Or is she the love from his soul's past? What is hell, compared to being burned alive in a car wreck? What is hell, compared to being in love?

The roughness of the narrator is smoothed by the end of the novel, like Marianne's rock sculptures of gargoyles and grotesques. While I could pigeon-hole it into a category (women's lit., mystery), I'll say it is simply beautiful writing that provokes thinking, which is my kind of book.

4.5 out of 5.0 Firestorms.


Rebecca said...

This sounds interesting! I need to get my hands on a copy!

Jena said...

Glad you liked it! This was probably my favorite read of last year. I'd love to know whether, in the end, you believe Marianne is schizophrenic or whether you believe she's what she says she is. (E-mail me w/ an answer if you'd rather not do spoilers in the comments.)

Kristin Dodge said...

Jena, I think how anyone looks at the end is how they *want* to believe it, does that make sense? It's like the movie, "KPAX."

What do you think?

Anonymous said...

After reading about 1/2 of this I became 100% convinced that this is Dean Koontz writing under a pseudonym. If not, then Davidson has read plenty of Koontz and absorbed all of his style (good and bad :).