In THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED by Page Morgan, gargoyles are far more than deliberately ugly stone statues attached to the side of churches, cathedrals and abbeys. Yes, some are troubled and have stone forms (some of the time) but they also act as the guardians of the buildings they decorate.
(And decorate they do – they’re also beautiful. As in, bizarre creature hot-beautiful. As in I may have a tiny bit of a book boy crush on a gargoyle. Never thought I’d write that).
These fantastical stone beasts have fascinated Page Morgan ever since she first went to Paris and saw the famous gargoyles adorning Notre Dame:
It’s very difficult to separate gargoyles from their ecclesiastical setting (especially if you studied Theology) and so I have always thought that gargoyles were meant to symbolise the dangers of evil and sin, to act as a didactic, visual warning and deterrent to congregations. After all, isn’t there something eerily recognisable about them? They are monstrous distortions of things we recognise: animals, emotions, our own faces even?
However, in THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED Page Morgan has created a cast of gargoyle characters who act as guardians and protectors of the buildings they adorn in their stone form, and the people who live within them. A little bit of internet procrastination later, and I’d discovered that actually, in a way, the fundamental role of a gargoyle was to protect – they’re super sophisticated-looking gutters that prevent rainwater eroding mortar and stone. They’re not screaming, but draining. I honestly think this is one of the coolest things – just look at this example of a gargoyle from Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.
Moreover, many suggest that gargoyles do not act as a deterrent towards people, but towards evil itself. Just look at the images above of the Notre Dame gargoyles nestled over the city; there’s an alertness and battle-ready feeling to them. They’re up in the heavens, encircling the cathedral and the congregation therein; manning their particular look out post, almost taunting any evil forces stupid enough to come near. I look at them and think you’re strong, and strangely elegant, and I need some new gutters so you’re coming home with me to keep me safe, thanks.
Look out for THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE CURSED out this week at bookstores everywhere!