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The Gargoyle

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  36,588 Ratings  ·  5,004 Reviews
The nameless and beautiful 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 compelling sculptress of
Hardcover, 468 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Canongate Books (first published 2008)
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Richard Mccallum Maybe there was a tale omitted, or story not fleshed out. Maybe they played the part off as if they were married to fit in and lie about the lack of…moreMaybe there was a tale omitted, or story not fleshed out. Maybe they played the part off as if they were married to fit in and lie about the lack of jewelry (ie no money for such material things). They do eventually wed however, although it is a big event.

I do remember that the landlady understood their situation, and from what I recall the people there kept too themselves unless it slipped the tongue. (less)
Sandy Had to be. But how? Marianne Engel mentioned nonchalantly after the Halloween party that seeing ghosts happens, but that was a big unanswered question…moreHad to be. But how? Marianne Engel mentioned nonchalantly after the Halloween party that seeing ghosts happens, but that was a big unanswered question for me. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emily May
“All history is just one man trying to take something away from another man, and usually it doesn't really belong to either of them.”

3 1/2 stars. Very nearly 4 but the strong start peters out a little, with the second half of the book losing momentum (I got to a point where I was reading just to finish).

The Gargoyle's prose bursts onto the pages in a blazing sea of fire. The book opens with detailed description of the accident that disfigures the unnamed narrator, with a beautiful, horrific b
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

I’m usually suspicious of over-hyped books, but a friend at the library highly recommended it.

A short way into the story, the narrator’s mom dies, his grandmother dies, he gets severely burned in a car accident, and his aunt and uncle die. I felt beat over the head with all the suffering and seriously thought about giving up reading by page 50. Then Marianne Engel, a woman with a history of mental illness, shows up in the nameless narrator’s hospital room telling a stor
I began to get an idea why the publisher paid $1.5 million for this novel (the highest ever paid in Canada) after the first few pages. Andrew Davidson is able to tease stories out paper with his pen like his character, Marianne, is able to tease gargoyles out of stone with a chisel. Through the mouth of Marianne and with images straight out of Dante's Inferno, he tells 700 years of stories of Marianne's reincarnations which have included whispering nuns, fiery arrows, callous mercenaries, deadly ...more
Jun 18, 2008 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I gave this almost 200 pages to win me over since it has been hyped so much and everyone seems to love it, but I had to give up on it and move on. I thought that the writing was very good, with some vivid images, especially the early one equating the narrator's burn to the pain caused by touching a hot stove--for a full minute. I also, surprisingly, enjoyed some of Marianne's tales of love.

The problem was--okay, one of the problems was--that I found them to be more interesting than her own stor
Lolly K Dandeneau
Aug 09, 2008 Lolly K Dandeneau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Gargoyle moves you to want to be in love and to NEVER want to be in love. Love is suffering, love is bliss. Davidson has penned a beautiful book full of love, meaning, and intelligence. It's not often that a person can learn history,religion and culture in a book about love. Oh and he threw in burn procedures, yes BURN procedures in a book about love, somehow it seems fitting. Wait, I think I forgot to mention there are language translations too. I do realize a lot of people run from anythin ...more
JaHy☝Hold the Fairy Dust
** 2"Forgive me Father for I am dumb" STARS**

Okay, I know I said I wasn't going to write a review, but God *beep* it, this book left me confused, defeated & feeling like a royal idiot. I couldn't wait for Carla to finish because she had some splanin to do. Um yeah, that conversation went something like this . .

. . . Yup, neither one of us understood the ending. We went from riding the short bus, to pushing it.

There are two main plot points that didn't add up & it's driving me crazy. Pl
Sammy Loves Books
This Book is Beautiful Beyond Words!!!
5 "Beautiful Grotesque" stars!!!


Our Nameless Hero

porn star

Our hero is wounded and almost dead. He survives a horrible accident and struggles to survive.

“My flesh began to singe as if I were a scrap of meat newly thrown onto the barbecue, and then i could hear the bubbling of my skin as the flames kissed it.”


“My skin will never work like that again, so aware of the other person that I'm unsure where she ends and I begin. Never again. Never again will my skin be a
This is a most unusual tale. It is the love story of a severely burned ex-porn star and a schizophrenic sculptor on it's surface. Which is interesting enough--both are lovably flawed fascinating characters in their on right. But soon the other stories, spanning centuries, begin. Each is a heartbreaking yet uplifting story of love. All are told in language I can only call magical--I found myself often stopping to re-read sections because I wanted to savor their beauty a bit longer. Reading this b ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Sep 28, 2008 Shelby *trains flying monkeys* rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Shelby *trains flying monkeys* by: My bookclub
Shelves: read-2008, favorites
What a book! I thought okay so an odd storyline when I heard about it. But my book group was saying it was so good that I thought I would give it a try and I'm soooo glad that I did. This book makes you glad to be a reader. For me it brought stories and that love of a really really good book to life again. I am about halfway through it and I keep making me put it down because I dread it ending.
Andrew Davidson has written a gift for the reading world. His stories sweep you up and place you there
Misericordia ❣
A one wonderful story, twisted of the plethora of entangled stories. I love this book, it leaves a an incredibly warm afterfeeling to the reader. It enamours you with this fantastic tale.

Invokes such vivid imagery that it's almost painful to read. An excruciating fairy tale exploring the gossamer of tears and bliss, of fears and hopes. The lore and the subconcious are entangled to create a memorable exploration of a soul's journey through eternity.

The only way I was able to survive that shit
Maria Clara
Mar 20, 2017 Maria Clara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yo diría que entre un 3.5 y 4.

Realmente la historia me ha sorprendido! No esperaba de ninguna manera un protagonista tan atípico; irónico. Es tan fuerte su personalidad, que, para mí, a pasado por encima de la historia y se ha llevado todo el mérito.
Jun 05, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hopeful, Yet Heart-Crushing
"I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away
I see my Marianne walkin' away...."
Boston, "More Than a Feeling," 1975

4.2 stars [revised/shortened on 6/27]

by Elizabeth Lisa, My Visualization of Marianne Engel, from novel

Two separate but related stories occur within this novel, with maybe 4/5 meta-meta-fables of love being told to the protagonist by his lover Mar
Dec 30, 2016 Roya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite
To describe 2016 as a disaster would be an understatement. Sadly, my reading year wasn't too different. While I have read a couple of exceptionally good books, the rest of the year has been a bit of a dud. I picked this book up with an apathetic shrug of the shoulders. Hardly any of my friends had read it and I just thought it would be too weird for me. Luckily for me, the year still had room for pleasant surprises.

The nameless protagonist is, in his own words, "a coke-addled pornographer". Natu
Mike (the Paladin)
Dec 27, 2009 Mike (the Paladin) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
Everyone told me I'd love this book, then they all told me I SHOULD love this book. I read all the blurbs about how wonderful, astounding, amazing, unbelievable it was.

You know, I actually wanted to like it. I was looking for a good book. I was hoping for an absorbing story that would draw me in, where I could sink into the story.

Alas, this wasn't it. I forged my way through a good part of the book, after all sometimes books start slowly and then "take off". This one didn't. I finally skimmed m
Opening Line: "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love."

I really liked this book and found myself absorbed in the world that Andrew Davidson has created. THE GARGOYLE is a multilayered tragedy within a love story and it will affect you on many different levels; horrific, sad and gruesome it is also complex, funny, thought provoking and redeeming. Unfortunately any summery you read won't really do it justice.

THE GARGOYLE has been written in a first person narrative and
Georgina ☽ 2greekgirlsreading
 "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, 
often violently, just like love."

The "Gargoyle" is about an unnamed man whose life isn't the best. He was mistreated and abused as a child, he's addicted to drugs and he ended up being a porn star which he's very good at it but doesn't complete him.

One day he's in a terrible accident and ends up in the burn ward with third degree burns all over his body.

 He's completely unrecognisable. 

In the hospital he didn't get many visitors and while being on his own
Dec 04, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers through history and lovers of history
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: charity shop cheapness
Shelves: read-in-2011
I am on a book roll this week! No I do not mean that I am the filling in some sort of papery sandwich (although for the really enthusiastic book lover this may have some kind of kinky appeal, paper cuts not withstanding), I mean I have been selecting books from my shelf which I have been thrilled to read, engrossed and spell bound by and this does not always happen.

I am constantly on the search for reading matter... in Liverpool I am probably the book equivalent of an overly tall Jawa (know you
Dec 16, 2014 Cherie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Serendipity. I like that word. It means: luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.

The Gargoyle was such a pleasant surprise. I admit that I bought this book for the cover. First for the beautiful tattoo on the woman's back and second for the title. I figured that the flaming red heart indicated a love story and I was ready for that. I read stories of vampires and wearwolfs and zombies throughout the year. I was ready for a gargoyle story. I couldn'
Oct 20, 2013 Cher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.

Probably the most unique love story I have ever read - one that takes the reader through the multiple hells of Dante's Inferno while being simultaneously horrific and profoundly beautiful. You have the most unlikely of heros - a cynical porn star that enjoys his drugs and struggles with his faith. After a tragic accident his life is completely changed once he meets a peculiar woman that tells him they have been in love for centuries.

It is an unforgetta
Sep 12, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2008
The unnamed narrator of Andrew Davidson's debut novel "The Gargoyle" may be beautiful to the world but internally, his life is a mess. Raised as an orphan by his two meth-addicted cousins and then in foster care, he's now a adult cinema star whose life is built upon looks and appearances rather than any real depth. He's addicted to drugs, drinks too much and all of this leads to him to a horrific car accident in which he is horribly burned over most of his body, even going so far as to burn and ...more
This is not just a book, it's an adventure. You can tell that Davidson did not rush this book. The writing is detailed and vivid but not overdone. The characters jump off the page when you're reading this book, its like you're right there with them. It's amazing, it's a great read, it's an experience.

This book should not be underestimated, there are stories within stories and meanings within meanings and real depth. The writing is excellent. This book will move you emotionally and not always for
Wiebke (1book1review)
I think this waas the third or fourth time I read this book and I am happy to say, I love it even more!
In the meantime I have read Inferno by Dante as well, which made some of the things in this book clearer or put it imto more context than before.
Also I loved taking my time with the book, as I knew where it would lead and didn't feel the rush of wanting to find out the ending but cherished spending time with the characters and the prose.

The story touched me just as it does every time and I had
Aug 20, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fabulous! You reader are in for a grand time. Davidson is a master storyteller. The reader is given a wonderful and detailed story but you must choose what you will take away as truth or fantasy. Maybe it's a little bit of both. The book has been placed on my favorite shelf. I loved how the narrator is unnamed but he speaks to you as if he personally knows you. A love story at its best with the stamp of redemption all over it. Please Mr. Davidson release another book quickly!
It took me just a few days to read this, but already I've forgotten most of it. I decided not to review it last night when I finished it because I wanted to think on it and give it a fair shot, but now I feel like it's all just a fuzzy memory. Not a tell-tale sign of a new favorite of mine.

The premise certainly isn't original, though I'm not sure that particularly matters. The self-absorbed hotty narrator has spent the majority of his adult life drinking, drugging, and being a porn star, but ver
Aug 05, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
---Wow...just where do I start? Honestly, I was not sure whether I was going to read this book or not. I took the book home from the library 2 weeks ago, read a few gory pages and then stopped. I then read that this debut author, Andrew Davidson, was given a $2 million dollar advance on this book, and I had to read it to see what all the hype was about. I am so glad I did.

The Gargoyle, is a story about redemption.

This book is not for the faint of heart. The story begins with a horrible car accid
La Mala ✌
"Yes, that’s exactly what love is: a tiny, jittery primate with eyes that are permanently peeled open in fear."


Los pesares y extensos monólogos internos de La Gárgola comienzan con un accidente automovilístico. Ya en las primeras hojas, una estrella porno cocainómana termina brutalmente quemada; un hombre egoísta, tocado por nada y conmovido por poco. Esta gran desgracia (la belleza perdida, la actividad estancada) significa una bisagra en su vida ya que es en el hospital (larga recuperació
Aug 16, 2008 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Audrey by: I was lucky to win a copy.
‘Gargoyle’ by Andrew Davidson is like no other novel. It revolves around a beautiful but utterly corrupt, nameless, pornographer who is burnt beyond recognition. For him although he lives, he is already dead. Marianne Engel is the elusive, haunting and unstable sculptress of the stone Gargoyles; the title of the novel. Ultimately, she is his saviour in a way that he could never have understood previously. This novel reaches beyond the reader’s usual expectations. It is a story of great depth; an ...more
Sep 02, 2008 Justin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Grabbed this book up from the library anxious to get on with what was apparently sold for over a million by the author. Shucks. The calculus must be (always has been?) about profit, not story. Is this too harsh? Read the book. ALL first person, which is sort of ok, except this author is in and outside his own story, at times tracking it from an objective viewpoint, and at other times overly-descriptive and precise about what-we-do-not-know. The book sort of clumsily cuts between vignettes of pre ...more
Aug 23, 2008 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can appreciate the power of stories
Recommended to Amanda by: Mom
Shelves: kick-ass
I read this book a week ago and I've been mulling over exactly what I want to say about it, but I'm still not sure what that is. Simply put, I really loved the book. It was one of those wonderful books that sucked me in and I could not put it down until it was finished with me. Part of the reason I loved it was for the way there were stories within stories within stories, like some kind of literary Russian nested doll. Seeing how the stories connect together across time and cultures is a reminde ...more
Sep 18, 2008 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys reading
Shelves: first-reads
It's hard to believe that this is a first novel, it is a very well accomplished book, I can see me becoming an Andrew Davidson fan over time.

What I loved most about the Gargoyle is that it is so hard to categorise. It is a love story, an adventure story, a supernatural thriller, a horror tale (perhaps?) and there are many heart wrenching and indeed comedic moments in the book.

The characters are all very well developed and the parallels and use of Dante's Inferno have kicked my curiosity into ove
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Andrew Davidson is the author of The Gargoyle, which came out in 2008. In America, the publisher is Doubleday; in Canada, the publisher is Random House; in the UK, the publisher is Canongate; in Australia, the publisher is Text. The book was a New York Times best-seller, and has been translated into thirty languages.

Andrew lives in Canada, and is currently working on his next book.
More about Andrew Davidson...

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“You are mine,I am yours; you may be sure of this. You've been locked inside my heart, the key has been thrown away; within it, you must always stay. ” 251 likes
“Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.” 217 likes
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