I am always interested when an author takes a classic story and decides to put their own unique spin on it. The title itself Dante’s Journey should give the reader a clue, JC Marino has taken the classic Dante’s Inferno and refurbished it to fit more modern times. But make no mistake, this is no cheap upgrade of the rather aging text. Instead it is an exploration of the concepts. When first considered this technique may seem a cheat, to take an existing plot and rework it. But that is not the case, it is actually a supremely difficult task to pull off effectively.

Billed as fantasy, Dante’s Journey is far deeper than the usual fantasy book. It is instead a book about raw human emotions.

Even a casual glance at Dante’s Journey provokes response. My stepson came over about two weeks ago and his eyes honed onto it. He scanned a couple of pages and shocked me by asking if he could read it after I had finished. As he has never read Dante’s Inferno it will be interesting to hear his comments.

JC Marino sets Dante’s Journey in 1961 Boston, Detective Joe Dante is a man with a mission, and that mission is to bring Fillipo Argenti to justice for the death of his wife and children.

There is only one small problem, Joe Dante is dead! Joe has walked through the gates of hell. This is a place where his Boston PD badge means nothing. Fazed, yet unfazed Joe Dante is still on his quest to find justice and most importantly the man he views as his nemesis Argenti.

Joe has ally in his quest, the mysterious Virgil. A man of few words, but a man who can lead him to where he claims to want to go, but does Joe really want to visit that destination?

Hell we discover is a very multi faceted place. Hell is not just fire and brimstone, but many very different worlds of eternity. Hell has something for everyone. Hell consists of nine circles of increasing depth, within each circle are the worlds of the sinner. Joe Dante must navigate his way though them to find his answers.

Dante’s Journey is an interesting piece of writing that operates on a number of levels. At it’s most simplistic it can be read merely as a rather gritty adult fantasy, while the more discerning reader will enjoy the imagery and journey into the human psyche.

Joe Dante seeks the truth, with truth will come justice, and that justice will be meted out by his own hands. But what happens when the truth found, is not the truth perceived? Enemies can become friends, and friends become enemies.

JC Marino could have approached this novel in a lot of different ways, he could have placed the plot in the here and now, a great thriller of a story would be the result. However, in reflection the choice of the fantasy genre is the rightful one. It better permits the the author to explore emotions and concepts at their most base level.

I give Dante’s Journey high marks, Fantasy is not a genre that I read very often, although I have to admit that I have noticed a very distinct trend. Authors like JC Marino are taking the genre to new heights of literary achievement.

You can order your copy of Dante’s Journey by using the Amazon link above.

Simon Barrett

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