Friday, August 13, 2010
Dante's Journey by JC Marino
Synopsis From Back Cover:
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.
This is going to be one of my odder reviews to date because of how I ended up comparing it to the previous book I just reviewed, Homecoming by Jason Garrett. I don't want you to think that this was a work of Christian fiction because from what I can tell, it's not. What I will say is that I felt this book talked more about redemption and God's forgiveness then the book that was supposed to talk about it. The best part was that Dante's Journey wasn't preachy or over the top with that aspect, it just came through because of the journey that Joe Dante had to take through Hell.
Joe was a honorable cop and family man who was bent on revenge after both his daughters and wife were killed in one way or another by drugs and those that sell them. He had become a bitter, angry man (not that I can blame him for it) and all he cared about was making the man he thought was responsible, Filippo Argenti, pay for his grief.
When the quest for revenge left both men dead and in Hell, Joe was still, pardon the pun, hell bent on quenching his thirst for payback. Joe didn't even want to believe he was dead and it took him a while to come to terms with that. Now I'm not going to go into the details about the the journey to find Argenti and what Joe had to go through to do that or even about the truth he discovers about what really happened to his family. What I do want to talk about is the mental and emotional journey that Joe went through while he was in Hell.
The "journey" was more than just a physical one through the rings of Hell. The journey was also about one man's path and how following that path eventually leads to forgiveness and redemption. It's through this journey and seeing the suffering that Joe begins to realize the truth, that maybe he does belong in Hell. That his anger and thirst for revenge have tainted him and made him into something less than a moral man. It's by discovering the truth about what really happened and coming to grips with that reality that Joe is able to deal with his emotions and is even able to forgive those that were responsible for the deaths of his family. It's through that forgiveness of others that Joe is able to discover what sins he was guilty of and how he must forgive himself and accept God's forgiveness as well. It's only through that acceptance and forgiveness that Joe is able to complete his journey through Hell and end up in the place he truly deserved to be.
So now I'm left with and even bigger question in my head. Can a book that is in fantasy and has nothing to do with the genre of Christian fiction be put into that category because of the underlining message? Or is it the author and publisher that must decided what genre to place a book into? I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm even more confused about what makes a book Christian fiction and what makes it a great book with some sort of undertones to it?
No matter what genre this book falls into, I really enjoyed it not only for the wonderful imagery the author conjures up in his descriptions of Hell and those residing in it but also because it's of the wonderful narrative that almost everyone should be able to relate too. Joe's journey is one that we all find ourselves on at some point in our lives, eventually we all have to come to grips with what has been done to us as well as what we've done to others. We all need to reach that place in our lives where we can move on from those incidents and let forgiveness make them easier to bare and accept.
I'm really hoping that everyone gets a chance to read this one at some point regardless of what the book is classified as. It has elements of fantasy, mystery, and the religious but the whole is so much more than that. It's a journey in that classic sense of discovery and growth, and not one to be missed.