Sunday, July 18, 2010

Edi's Spotlight: Dante's Journey by J C Marino

Hello and welcome to a Fide review. For all of you who don't know ,ediFanoB shares his brain with four more personalities and we are Bona Fide, Bona, the Keeper of the minutes (Kotm) and me.
Once again I have the honor to present you a review.

Author J C Marino has been so kind as to send us a copy of his debut novel Dante's Journey (2010) [ISBN-13: 978-1935188094] and of course ediFanoB promised him to review his book.
Let's start with the cover and the back of the book:
"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. Joe was in hot pursuit of his family's killer, drug lord Filippo Argenti, when both were killed, and isn't about to let a little thing like death slow him down. So, with a healthy dose of New England stubbornness and the help of a mysterious guide, Virgil DiMini, Joe must evade angry demons, and search ever-lower through the rings of the original Dante's Inferno in hopes of finding justice for his wife and children. However, Joe will soon discover that behind every sin lies a secret and each secret revealed could land Joe in an eternity of hot water... VERY hot."
I don't know whether you are familiar with the famous Divine Comedy - an epic poem - written by Dante Alighieri. The Divine Comedy is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.
I must admit I never read the Divine comedy.
And now we have Dante's Journey. Any coincidences? YES. Dante's Journey is the modern version of Inferno, the first part of the Divine Comedy. The name of the main character: Joe DANTE. Where does the main part of the story take part? In HELL. And the name of Joe's mysterious guide: VIRGIL DiMini.

The story starts in Boston 1961 and leads through all nine level of HELL interspersed with flashbacks to Joe Dante's life in Boston. Between the prologue and the epilogue the story is divided in 55 named chapters. So you know always if you are in Boston or in which part of HELL. The whole story is narrated by Joe Dante himself who is a big fan of the Boston Red Socks (which is more important for US readers than European readers).
It is important to note that the blurb completely suppress the important role of human understanding of topics like faith, betrayal and more.

I have been impressed by the imagination of the author: from plenty of different kind of demons and monsters, over machines to unbelievable tortures. And due to J C Marino's wonderful knack of a eternalness HELL he created the possibility for Joe to meet people from past and future. And these people talk about their time. That gives the story more twists and turns in combination with Joe's story. Within all the action and thoughtfulness the author does not forget to intersperse humor.

Dante's Journey is definitely a great read.
there are few things, which I personally did not like.

One thing is religion. I have my own opinion about religion and normally I avoid to read books with too much religion.
And there are several scenes where Joe Dante's behavior has been a pain in my neck.
That hindered me personally to enjoy the book in total.

You look for a modern view of HELL based on a classic containing, action, thoughts, fantasy, mystery, mankind basics and not to forget humor then there is now way out to read Dante's Journey.

For more information about the author an the book checkout J C Marino's website and read the interview over at Fantasy Book Critic from June 2010.

Final Advice:
Don't read the book when it is hot outside. You will sweat double ......


Okie said...

I read Inferno a couple of years ago and got the entire Divine Comedy last year for Christmas but haven't pushed through it yet.

I really enjoyed Dante's work but would have been lost on a lot of the depth had it not been for handy footnotes.

When I first heard about this new book, I was intrigued and still am. Largely I'm interested in this for two reasons:
1) To see how a modern author tackles this huge work
2) Related to the first but I'm curious as to see which "modern" personas show up in some of the various levels of Hell.

On the religious note, I'm not entirely sure what complaints there might be, but considering the general topic and the original source material, I suspect there are plenty of religious elements.

As to your second complaint, I can say that with the original Inferno, I often found myself annoyed at Dante's comments and action to the extent that he was almost inactive through so much...just a very passive observer, which felt hugely unrealistic considering his environments. Part of that could have been the language of the day or the particular translation I read.

Overall, I really enjoyed the original Dante and look forward to reading this modern version.

ediFanoB said...


first of all thank you very much for your qualified comment which I read with great interest.

I think it is a great advantage when you have read Inferno And I'm sure you will have a good time with Dante's Journey.

Honestly I tried to express that I personally have not the best relationship to religion. And of course this has an impact on my reading. But hopefully you mentioned that I wrote that Dante's Journey "is definitely a great read."
I edited the passage a bit in order to clarify my point.

So the original Dante is partly annoying too?
I would say that is a compliment to J C Marino for his knowledge of Inferno.
Anyway I always try to tell what I liked/disliked. When you willread other reviews of Dante's Journey you will mention that I'm not the only one who has had partial problems with Dant's behaviour.

Now I hope you will read Dante's Journey because I would like to know what you think about Dante's Journey compared to Inferno.

Enjoy reading!

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