I only managed to finish one book over the last three weeks but it has been a great one! A quick confession, I didn’t choose it based on the cover but I did choose it because all of its pages were trimmed in black which looked very cool! Fortunately the story inside was as intriguing as the outward design.
‘A young man is fighting for his life. Into his room walks a bewitching woman who believes she can save him. The nameless narrator of The Gargoyle 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 wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned. His life is over – he is now a monster. But in fact it is only just beginning. One day, Marianne Engel, a wild and com
pelling sculptress of gargoyles, enters his life and tells him that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. As she spins her tale and relates mesmerising stories of deathless love in Japan, Greenland, Italy and England, he finds himself drawn back to life – and, finally, to love.’
The Gargoyle is a dense and thoughtful book that sticks with you after you have finished it, in an unsettling way that is the mark of all good gothic fiction. I really enjoyed reading this, it is a long book and I took my time but that felt appropriate. The narrator goes through a long and challenging journey that would not feel authentic if you could rush through it in a casual reading.
There are lots of stories within stories here that sample the legends and ethos of different cultures throughout history. So if you have any interest in ancient stories and myths then you will probably enjoy all the classical references.
Several parts of the tale were difficult to stomach and I would not recommend reading it just before bedtime. From the vivid descriptions of the narrator’s burns and painful treatments, to the cruel deaths that populate Marianne’s love stories there is plenty here to inspire nightmares. But there were also moments of sweetness and hope to balance out the horror.
I would recommend this book mainly because it didn’t leave me alone once I finished reading it. I kept pondering the characters and what made them tic. I shivered when I remembered some scenes and smiled at the thought of others. It was a story that captured me, and maybe you should let it capture you too.