Andrew Davidson - The Gargoyle (4 stars)

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Andrew Davidson - The Gargoyle

(Canongate)

GOTHIC TALE

With so many books on all our to-read lists, brevity is a virtue. The Gargoyle flouts this with great success. Framed by the sceptical voice of a severely burned car crash victim, events swing from medieval times to the present, from frigid Iceland to the fiery pits of hell. In a nested story form similar to Cloud Atlas, stories are told to the disfigured patient by the mysterious gargoyle sculptor Marianne Engel, who claims to have loved him in previous centuries.

Over 468 pages, Canadian author Andrew Davidson spins a world so expansive and magically realised that it is heart-rending to return to the real one. Contemporary diagnoses of mental illness vie with fairytale to create a postmodern gothic romance. His meticulously researched and abundantly emotional tome is a momentous debut that can’t go on too long and holds an acrostic surprise for the eagle-eyed.

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