Saturday, October 8, 2011

Book Review: The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

I don't review books much as it takes time and I read a ton and it seems a little unfair to review one book when I have thousands under my reading belt. But, and this is my big but. There are some books that you just HAVE to talk about. I have a few that I recommend all the time. One is "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson, I will review this one some other time, and the one I am going to talk about today.


Here is what the book is about:

1865 Boston, a small group of literary geniuses puts the finishing touches on America’s first translation of The Divine Comedy and prepares to unveil the remarkable visions of Dante to the New World. The powerful old guard of Harvard College wants to keep Dante out—believing that the infiltration of such foreign superstitions onto our bookshelves would prove as corrupting as the foreign immigrants invading Boston harbor. The members of the Dante Club—poets and Harvard professors Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and publisher J. T. Fields —endure the intimidation of their fellow Boston Brahmins for a sacred literary cause, an endeavor that has sustained Longfellow in the hellish aftermath of his wife’s tragic death by fire.

But the plans of the Dante Club come to a screeching halt when a series of murders erupts through Boston and Cambridge. Only the members of the Dante Club realize that the style and form of the killings are stolen directly from Dante’s Inferno and its singular account of Hell’s punishments. With the police baffled, lives endangered and Dante’s literary future at stake, the Dante Club must shed its sheltered literary existence and find a way to stop the killer.

The brunt of the burden falls to Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose unique literacy in both poetry and medicine continues to pull him into the center of the struggle. An outcast policeman, Nicholas Rey, the first and only black member of the Boston police department, places his future on the line after discovering the secrets of the Dante Club. Together, they find the key to the murders where they least expect it: closer than they could have imagined.

Here is my take:

I loved this book. It was so well thought out, planned and kept me guessing. Not only that but it made me want to read Dante. I like books that spur me on to read more, other works and so on. I got to learn some history, read about the old school world of publishing and follow a killer that I found creepy and scary cool.

It is hard to review as there is so much to say, so let me just leave it at this. You must buy, rent, download, steal, or murder someone and take their copy if you need too. Just do it and read this book, it is well worth it and an amazing work.

I hope this helps as the weather gets colder, and you find you have more time in front of the fire sipping on a glass of wine. Take a ride back in time and read The Dante Club.


Author Aaron Patterson: Blog: The Worst Book Ever.


  1. Hey I've just started reading this novel but I find it quite difficult, I'm learning English and stuff like that, but, do you think a person like me who hasn't read a lot of books in Englsih can read this one?

  2. Hmmmm, it would be a really hard book if you are new to English. I would keep with it as it is done right, easier books may not be the "Right" English, or shall we say, more lingo and not as literary. But it is all what you want, if you want a book for fun and just want to blaze through and get some practice this might not be the best choice.