Fiction, Illness, Loved-it, Magical realism

Beauty And Ugliness In Love: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson One Of The Most Beautiful Books I Read This Year

This book has been amazing. So amazing, that as usual, I let a half a year pass before I even thought of reviewing it. Months later, I still get vivid flashbacks from this unbelievably strong, beautiful, and yet visceral story.

The Gargoyle

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★★★★★  5+++ stars

A man suffers a terrifying car crash and ends up with serious burns, losing any kind semblance to who he looked life before the crash, or even a human being, for that matter. Deep in despair, he randomly meets a clearly unhinged, but genius sculptress, and what follows is their incredibly unlikely love story that spans not just the current lives they are living, but, regardless of any sense and sanity, their lives in the middle ages. It’s an incredibly beautiful, touching, and yet also terrifying and heartbreaking story which will not leave you cold, whether you like it or hate it.

A Love Story That Isn’t Quite Like A Love Story

No, it’s not a romance book. At all. How do you write romance completely outside of romance? The love story could only be called ‘weird’, and yet… Incredibly beautiful. Particularly touching because of the subtle magical realism element, how their love spans ages, how they are remembering each other. How feelings are translated into prose and poetry, and how you don’t need to see things said outright to know they are true. Also? FEELS. Loads of feels. I cried. The end of this book is unbelievably beautiful, meaningful and heartbreaking. I can only wish to experience something like this in another book.

The Prose In This Book Is Basically Poetry

I read it translated, but from what I’ve heard, the prose is just as beautiful in the original. It was mesmerizing… If not for the contents, I would have kept reading this book purely for the writing. It’s probably what gives the story half its magic and colors. This is the kind of writer that plays with the sounds as much as the meanings, and it’s amazing.

What’s more, the writing is so refreshingly self-sarcastic (I mean, it’s aimed at the self), at the same time so colorful and flowing. It’s not easy to write trauma, pain and physical suffering so humorously, and at the same time – so fluently, so… harmlessly. It’s so atmospheric, the writer knows how to craft a feel for something by using the right types of words, sticking to a certain theme. It paints a very vivid canvas. And despite that, I know that I snickered reading every second page. It was just written so well.

Important Themes And Questions

This book ponders many important questions. Although some of them might be triggers, but they are also important to talk about: trauma, body image and the loss of it, religious symbols, being an orphan, faith, illness, self-expression, asexual love, trust, mental illness, repentance, suicide… What particularly resonated with me was the love without any sexual element. Is sexual love the only valid love? Can couples be couples without anything sexual between them? Whether they can’t physically, or just don’t want to? And why is this love so looked down upon in society, thought to be lesser than sexual love?

It Seems Very Well Researched

Part of the story happens in the middle ages, and I felt like it was incredibly well researched. The lives of nuns in a nunnery, the beliefs in saints and saintly men, the way books were being preserved…  Just the whole feel of that day. It was quite an experience to read it.

Its Beauty Is Hard To Pinpoint

I don’t understand what this book was doing to me, but it’s as if I was being put under a spell. As if it was speaking to something behind me, beyond my body and mind as a shell – as if it was speaking to my soul. Like that dream that you can’t quite place as you wake up, but you still remember how it spoke to you, although you don’t read know what it said or what even happened. This book speaks to you in a secret language that is beyond you. It’s so very strange to be observing a dialogue between the magical words and something in you, of you, but not consciously you, to be a bystander in this magical event. And you’re absolutely baffled and mesmerized by it. At least I know I was.


I must warn about the triggers. This is a very strong book, vivid and colorful, and I didn’t say ‘visceral’ without a reason. This book talks about physical trauma, and does so in very much detail. For those of you who are sensitive readers, it might be uncomfortable. There are other triggers as well – talk of porn, drugs, suicide. For me though, all of this made the book only more colorful. I believe the author was playing with contrast between beauty and ugliness, pain and bliss, love and hate. While this works wonderfully for the story, keep in mind that it’s not always easy to read.

Have you read anything like this, with flowing prose and a variety of topics? If you’ve read similar books, what would be your recommendations for me?