I got The Gargoyle at a book fair and after reading the blurb at the back I thought this is a novel that I’m really going to love – as I’m generally into gothic and dark romances. I wasn’t wrong I did love it so much!
When I started reading I was surprised that it was set in the modern era and I was confused at the start – that doesn’t go to say that the book didn’t draw me and intrigue me because it really did. I loved how the horror of the burning wasn’t toned down and that it was shocking and painful because I as the reader my heart was being clenched with sadness. Davidson successfully manages to take away the glass screen that makes the readers watch from the sidelines and truly lets the reader experience everything themselves. I really could imagine the events of the novel happening in real life.
The characters I though were so fantastic and they weren’t simply characters on a page – they didn’t have a air of reality because they are so well crafted that they are indeed appeared like real people with feeling, attitudes, a past and a present.
Furthermore, I loved the character of Marianne – her character is so heroic, she has real strength and the amount of belief she has is unfaltering. She is at the same time a mysterious character yet an un-mysterious character – she comes out of nowhere and she changes the whole narrative. It’s not about her ‘beauty’ or her ‘physical appearance’ that are significant as in other novels but this isn’t the case in this novel and it makes it that much more powerful. Marianne has so much power as a heroine, a woman, as voice to the story that you can’t but help to fall love with her. She is really a symbol of strength and belief, even though the narrator doesn’t believe her story, she doesn’t back down even for a single moment. There is a contradictory nature to her character – she is at moments so strong and at moments so helpless, she is the provider and yet at times she can’t even look after herself. Indeed, she is truly one of those characters that cares for others more than her and is really the epitome of a character with many hearts.
Also the ‘character’ of Bougastas isn’t to be left out even though might some consider him only a small part of the story he isn’t – he is very much like the narrator in so many ways. He is with Marianne many years, she loves him and even though the burnt man comes into her life, they are of equal – she really does have a big true heart.
Lastly the burn man whose name we never find out, is a character that at the beginning, might seem to some readers strange and untypical for a hero – well he is untypical but he isn’t strange. He isn’t one of those ‘perfect’ stereotypical male characters – he has his flaws yet this is great because we all do, as we are human beings. In him I saw the real conflict that goes on in the human mind and the human nature – he wishes to die, is embarrassed by his appearance, he logically thinks that Marianne is ill and yet in his heart he truly knows that she isn’t. It’s that dual nature here that really makes us attached and really believe in his narration – he really does tell us the truth without a doubt. He goes through so much hardship yet he doesn’t pity himself, I loved this about him and I though that Davidson had sculpted him perfectly – because in so many novels we see characters pity themselves yet we as the reader never tend to pity those characters. A significant thing I have to highlight is the importance of appearance here – it’s not our appearance that defines us. The narrator only learns from the change in his appearance about himself – so there is a moral here – his pre- accident appearance was a façade to learning about his true nature and finding what he really wanted from as well as in life.
The narrator realises that his appearance doesn’t matter and that only through his burning has he met Marianne – and the moral of this is that life isn’t about beauty as his beauty was pointless and he was wasting away his life. It’s his burning that makes his a better person and teaches him about life and himself. By returning to that state he would lose everything he has gained after the accident.
What struck me was that their love transcended through everything. It was an unspoken bond there between them. No matter what they had been through and went through their love was there and nothing in the world could change that – neither time, nor appearance, nor arguments and neither death. Their love isn’t based on primal needs after he is burned but their love exists regardless - even Marianne touching his burns there is tenderness and love in that touch. Even a simple look between them is one of love and I knew that they belonged together forever.
Moreover, the historical aspect in the book was simply magical – I couldn’t wait to find out what happened after each time the story paused and then when it started again it took me on another adventure. When the story was finally told I was in tears. It’s so perfectly interweaved into the plot and the story in itself is so powerful and moving that we can’t but be effected by it. There is courage, faith, love, friendship, as well as betrayal and lose that it’s so remarkable and it consumes the reader. After we discover the end of the historical tale we are really at a loose of words – we never saw the story to coming to such an end. Afterwards, I couldn’t help myself but love, respect and admire Marianne even more.
The actual novel ending is something that I too could have never predicted. The narrator is changed, for the better yet his life changes ones again, and well he is very far away from the man he used to be in the beginning of the novel. He continues to love even after there is no more hope; the beacon of hope in his life is gone and is never coming back. Just like in the beginning in one moment he loses everything he values and yet he doesn’t surrender his life. Even though he has a choice he doesn’t use it and everyday he thinks about this choice – feeling guilty but I felt that even though he had the choice it wasn’t an option and he in his heart deeply knows that.
This novel is something every reader should give a try because it’s simply not worth a miss.