The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

A strange book this one.  I suppose I’d have to describe it as magical realism with a really brutal kick.  It reminded me of Angela Carter’s novels and fairy tales, which allow the reader to live in two different versions of the same story – one set in the ‘real world’, where the narrator’s or a character’s sanity is called into question, and the other set in a fantastical place where absolutely anything can happen.  What’s great about these types of novels are that you’re never sure who or what to believe, and that is the case with The Gargoyle.

One of the main characters of this book, Marianne Engel, lives in the present day but claims to have been alive 700 years ago.  She tells the novel’s nameless narrator that she knew him then too, although he certainly can’t remember anything about it.  He believes she is mad,  yet begins to fall in love with her, and as she sees more and more of him and tells him story after story (all of which she claims are true), the lines between reality and fantasy blur.

Sounds intriguing?  Well, be prepared – this book is also a bit gruesome, especially the first few chapters!  The narrator has been involved in a horrific accident and he is committed to forcing the reader to see and feel what has happened to him.  The vivid physicality of the narrator’s painful accident is described in detail, but if you can get through that you really will be rewarded by the imaginative scope of this novel.

In conclusion then: not for the squeamish, but if you’re a reader who is willing to feel everything, embrace madness and keep an open mind to the possibility of fantasy coming true, you should enjoy this.

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