Author: JC Marino
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Published: February 22nd 2010 by Star Publish
“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 is based on the famous Inferno by Dante Alighieri which I haven´t read to be honest. I know however basically what it is about.
Each chapter of this book represents another circle of hell with a sin and the respective punishment. Every once in a while, there are chapters called thoughts of home which are a flashback to Joe´s previous life.
I have to say, JC Marino does a great job to write a modern version of the classic. As in the original poem the story is told by Joe Dante, Boston cop, whose life after the death of his family is exclusive focused on avenging their death and destroying the person he deems resposible, Filipo Argenti.
This book starts with a kind of mystery. After a flash of white light in Boston in the 60s, Joe Dante finds himself in totally unknown surroundings with no clue how he got there. After he follows a strange trail of footsteps, he soon he gets to know a relative young guy called Virgil who claims to be his guide and tells him that he is dead and in hell. Surprisingly, Virgil seems to know more about Dante than possible. So, with the strange and dubious Virgil on his side, he starts his way through hell.
Joe Dante is definetly stubborn. Sometimes annoyingly so, but I guess that only means that JC has done a great job of making his character believable and realistic. His love for his family and the guilt he feels about his death has not only destoyed him and his career but also his faith. When he finally confronts his arch nemesis and wants to kill him, said white light appears and changes everything. Well, maybe not his stubbornness. Even though there is no other logical explanation for what Dante sees and experiences in hell, he still doesn´t want to acknowledge that he might really be dead and in hell.
The pacing of the story is sometimes breathtakingly high, especially whenever one of the numerous demons appear, sometimes it allows you to actually think for yourself about the imagery used in the book. There are many turns regarding the death of his family and the mystery of how Joe Dante ended up in hell is solved very late in the book, so there is hardly a dull moment.
Through his language, some of his character traits and beliefs, Joe Dante is definetly a man from his era. Just as credibly as Joe are all the other people he meets from the different periods of time. JC Marino has done and incredible job of bringing them to life by the way they act and talk. Espacially the slangs are really well done. I also enjoy the running gag about the Boston Red Sox and their notorious curse (yes, even I here in Germany have heard about it!)
Dante´s Journey is a book about a journey, both in the literal and in the figurative sense. It´s also a book about sins, punishment, belief, faith and ultimately forgiveness. It´s great to see how Dante´s character evolves throughout the book.
So, all in all, for all of you who want to read something different for a change, a book with a little more depth, that stands out among the mass of Urban Fantasy titles because of the re-imagination of a classic and ,the great character design, go on and read it. It will be definetly worth your time. In an interview with the author, I found out that it took JC Marino ten years to finish this book. But after reading it, I can tell you that he has done one hell of a job in this ten years.