My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was one of the most astonishing and riveting books I’ve read in a long time. Davidson’s research is extensive, his characters, past, present, and imaginary are fascinating, and the story is powerful. The parallels with Dante’s Inferno makes the love story between the two main characters as much a tragedy as a romance. He manages to have the reader feel pain for the narrator of the story, a totally unlovable character at the start.
It’s a story of discovery of the true self and of the purity –and intransigence– of love.
The story, as described on Goodreads:
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.
A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in 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, in love. He is released into Marianne’s care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished.
Already an international literary sensation, the Gargoyle is an Inferno for our time. It will have you believing in the impossible.