Dante's Journey by JC Marino
Book of the Month
A flash of light and Detective Joe Dante steps through. No longer on the cobblestone streets of 1961 Boston, Joe finds himself in a horrifying new world – Hell itself.
Firstly I would like to say this is a fantastic book in the dark fantasy genre. It is from first time author JC Marino. However, the blurb on the book’s cover does not do this book justice. This tale or journey is so much more than you are led to believe. I am a prolific reader, and this year after reading a hundred plus books this is definitely in the top three. I can only think of two other books that have left such an impression on me recently, Durham’s Acacia and Val McDermiad’s A Place of Execution. This is a thought provoking book which will live long in the memory and will leave you with quiet moments of introspection long after you have put it down.
This book obviously draws inspiration from Dante’s The Inferno. There have been a few other books that have used this book for inspiration, notably Dumas’ the Count of Monte Cristo and its lead character of Edmund Dantes. A journey that is similar with its exploration of the themes of betrayal, revenge, faith and redemption.
This book starts off with a gritty lead character in Joe Dante, a character who has a Chandleresque feel to him. The writing has a relaxed way about it and it soon sucks you in as the story is driven along. Joe Dante is a Boston cop who is chasing down Filippo Argenti, for the murder of his wife and two daughters. Joe will stop at nothing to enact revenge. When both are killed they find themselves in Dante’s version of hell with its nine circles of varying punishment. As in the original Joe Dante also has Virgil as his guide through hell.
This book is cleverly split into chapters that are titled Canto’s, like its predecessor. As well as chapters that is interspersed throughout the book titled, Reflections of Home. This allows us to chart Joe Dante’s journey into hell from his life in sixties Boston. Once in Hell there is no concept of time and Marino cleverly fuses together all the timelines as people from different epoch’s co mingle with each other. Joe is introduced to the future and the past as he relentlessly searches for Argenti. The development of Joe’s character through his journey also deserves note. We see him clearly develop and face his demons, and we are left strongly rooting for him. There is also an intelligent ironic humour throughout.
This tale works on all levels, and as well as being a clever exposition of today’s society and its morals, and how far we have fallen, it also works on the level that it is action packed throughout. In the end though, it is a tale of faith and of renewed hope for the future. I often found myself pausing through this book and pondering on things in my life. It is a story which will live long in the memory and that is the highest compliment one can pay to a book.
I urge you to give this first time author a try. You will not be disappointed. It is a cathartic experience. It is also a wonderful modern retelling of the classical poem, and one that deserves widespread reading. As for me I will be passing this book onto my family and friends, as well as finally giving Dante’s The Inferno a go.
This Dante's Journey book review was written by Allan Fisher
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Dante's Journey reader reviews
I really enjoyed this book as well. Made me think, but also had a lot of fun with each level of Hell.
8.7/10 from 2 reviews
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