21 Nov Get the Gargoyle!
When LOL member, Cindy G, said the book she’d chosen was called The Gargoyle and that it might be a little “out there,” all kinds of crazy thoughts ran through my head. Envisioning a book of Medieval fantasy, I wondered if it would be too weird for my liking; too much Medieval, too much fantasy.
Along with “never judge a book by its cover,” one could add, “never judge a book by its title” because this is a thoroughly modern tale told in a distinctly contemporary, yet perfectly poetic voice. The first thing you will notice is the quality of the author’s work. Oh, at long last! A truly talented wordsmith. Andrew Davidson is a beautiful writer, each sentence carefully constructed, yet his work is so very readable, the flow so natural and seamless, the story so darkly engaging, right from the get-go. It’s eminently readable. I’m on Chapter V and I cannot put this book down!
It’s been a long time since I read a novel that enthralled me this much. As a reader, I’m smitten, drawn immediately in as Davidson opens with a highly detailed, darkly detached description of a horrific car accident and the subsequent burning of the victim, our first protagonist in the novel. As a writer, I’m in awe of his lovely, lyrical work.
Macabre, to be sure, descriptions of the physical pain and the disgusting smell of being burned alive are so vivid, they might make your stomach churn, and yet–the victim tells the tale of his torture from a detached position, as though he were relaying some kind of beastly bedtime story. I envisioned an uncle or a grandfather–someone whose own sleep would not be sacrificed, who had no stake, in whether I was kept up all night with scary dreams–reading aloud some ancient, dark fairytale. It made me shiver, yet I wanted more. Like coming upon a horrific accident you can’t help craning your neck from the passenger seat to see.
Descriptions like, “Imagine turning on the elements of your stove–let’s say its the electric kind with black coils on top…Maybe some tiny tendrils of smoke curl up from a previous spill on the burner….A slight violet tinge will appear, nestled in there in the black rings, and then the element assumes some reddish-purple tones, like unripe blackberries. It moves toward orange and finally–finally!–an intense glowing red. Kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
…I want you to trace the fingertips of your left hand gently across your right palm, noting the way your skin registers even the lightest touch. If someone else were doing it, you might even be turned on. Now, slam that sensitive, responsive hand directly onto that glowing element. And hold it there. Hold it there as the element scorches Dante’s nine rings right into your palm, allowing you to grasp Hell in your hand forever. Let the heat engrave the skin, the muscles, the tendons, let it smolder down to the bone. Wait for the burn to embed itself so far into you that you don’t know if you’ll ever be able to let go of that coil. It won’t be long until the stench of your own burning flesh wafts up, grabbing your nose hairs and refusing to let go, and you smell your body burn…”
Are you shivering yet? It only gets better.