27 May, 2010

Review - Dante's Journey by JC Marino

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.

Dante's Journey [US] [UK] was definitely an interesting book and although it is somewhat a retelling of an older story, it's completely unlike anything I've ever read. I'm starting to sound like a broken record if you've been reading my recent reviews, but I've had a good reading spell, what can I say.

Dante's Journey starts out immediately following Joe Dante as he arrives in Hell, although he would believe otherwise, but the rest of the book alternates chapters in Hell and with Joe's life before Hell, but don't try to convince Dante he's dead - he won't believe you.

I've never read Dante's Inferno, but after some quick research and after speaking with the author, I learned that Marino followed closely to the depictions of the 9 circles of Hell as told in the original poem. I had lots of fun awaiting the new tortures at each level and I thought Marino did a great job getting the characters through surprising twists, turns, and realizations to each of the new levels.

There are plenty of demons that abound including insect types, lizard, and even robotic - all employed to inflict the perfect amount of torture on the damned individual and all given ample opportunity and cause to chase after Joseph Dante.

Early in the book, this was actually a bit of an annoyance for me because Dante would almost purposely and unnecessarily attract these critters in a way that really didn't make sense. I mean, Dante is a smart guy, but he would act a bit dumb at times and this came off somewhat contrived. Luckily that only happened once or twice at the beginning and was no longer a problem for the rest of the book.

Dante's Journey is an interesting take on the afterlife that is non-stop action both as we follow the protagonist in Hell and in his home life before we find him in Hell. I thought I could pretty much fit in at any of the levels so that was a good cause for some introspection and realizations of my own. This made Dante's Journey not only a fun ride, but also a bit of a thought-provoking book at least for me.

There were also plenty of characters that you couldn't help but like even some that you wanted to hate but couldn't, playing into some of the twists that were unexpected. Because Hell had its own sense of time, most of the levels of Hell brought new people from Roman soldiers to Vietnam vets and even gangsters and some good lingo from the 80s. I really got attached to Joe Dante and I'm excited to read more about him.

I was really impressed with Dante's Journey and couldn't wait to come home from work each day to get back to Hell. :) This is just one more example why it's such a good idea to give small presses a chance, they can really blow you away.

When Should You Read Dante's Journey?

Dante's Journey may fit that urban fantasy itch, but really it's just a great story I'd recommend for anyone at anytime. It's self-contained and good for a break from the latest epic series.

4 out of 5 Stars (Loved it)

JC Marino has 2 more books planned for Joseph Dante.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Unknown said...

Great review. Glad that you enjoyed the book.

Bryce L. said...

I'm really looking forward to the rest of what Marino has planned. Thanks Ty, I read yours a while ago and that's what got me really interested.

Nick @ Lions and Men said...

Awesome review. I tried to get into the original Divine Comedy a while back and it didn't go to well. This seems perfect!

Bryce L. said...

Thanks Nick. Definitely recommended. It's a great story.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Sounds like you had about the same feelings as I did on Joe. At first and even a few times through the read he was a little bit of a brat type attitude for me. But I really enjoyed the journey, and the torment that went with the sins. I really enjoyed the book too. :)

Jamie Gibbs said...

Awesome review. I've skimmed through the original Inferno, and I've played through the video game adaptation, so this book will be right up my street. I'll be interested to see the journey through Hell depicted through modern eyes. Definitely going to give this one a read!

Bryce L. said...

@Melissa - I'm glad I'm not the only one. Glad you liked it too.

@Jamie - Thanks a ton. I thought this was lots of fun, hope you like.

Mishel (P.S. I Love Books) said...

First time hearing about this one and I really like the sound of it. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it so much =)