Sunday, July 3, 2022

The Gargoyle at the Gates

The Gargoyle at the Gates
by Philippa Dowding
Recommended Ages: 10+

Toronto's two living gargoyles, Gargoth and Ambergine, have been happily reunited and now divide their time, mostly, between the rooftop of Candles by Daye (Cassandra's New Age gift shop) and the small, gated park across the street. Their young friend Katherine still visits several times a week, and a new boy-next-door called Christopher becomes a new friend. All would be well, except The Collector is still hanging around, watching and waiting for his chance to recapture Gargoth, whom he considers his private property.

It's a disturbing case of evil obsession, and it brings our kind-hearted, winged friends into their direst danger yet. It almost seems like it could be the end of two living works of art who have already endured so much during the past 400 years. Meanwhile, however, they have friends they don't even know about, and one of them is closer than you'd expect. For on the other side of Toronto lives a teenager who's just gotten to know his estranged grandfather and the strange creatures that live in his English garden. Maybe Gargoth and Ambergine aren't so alone after all. And maybe there's a safe place in the world for beings like them.

This is the third installment in the "Lost Dragon" trilogy, an early series by Canadian author Philippa Dowding that is unaccountably rare and hard to find. Despite being very compact, it's a sweet and emotionally touching story with a unique magic and multiple plot threads in play. Having previously read nothing else by Dowding but Everton Miles Is Stranger Than Me, I find my interest in her work rejuvenated after zipping through this series. Again, she is also the author of Firefly, Oculum, Oculum Echo (coming in October 2022), The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden and the six "Weird Stories Gone Wrong," including Jake and the Giant Hand, Myles and the Monster Outside, Carter and the Curious Maze, Alex and the Other, Blackwells and the Briny Deep and Quinn and the Quiet, Quiet.

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