Verdict: This intelligent work of fiction combines mythology, philosophy, and ancient literature into a supernatural road trip.
Borrowing liberally from Dante’s Inferno, this suspenseful fantasy chronicles the adventure of a man who awakens alone and naked on a deserted highway with no idea of his identity. He finds a car with written instructions to drive until the end of the highway and then drive some more, and is warned that highly unpleasant consequences await him for disobeying instructions. The car contains a collection of compact discs featuring the teachings of a man named Dr. Shaw, a variety of bottled wines, and a mute creature locked in the trunk.
We soon learn the driver’s name is Dion, and the vehicle is followed down the highway by demon crows that attack him mercilessly when he veers off the designated path, tries to free the creature locked in the trunk, or stops for any reason. After each attack, Dion’s crippled body regenerates from the light of the moon, while his mind drifts off into lucid dream worlds in the circles of hell where he learns more of his past, present, and future. These dream worlds unite him with ancient philosophers and mythological creatures, in addition to reuniting him with a former lover. These encounters serve as metaphorical detours that provide clues for the hero, but also slow down the story with philosophical debates not essential to the story (similar to the lengthy ramblings of the Dr. Shaw tapes).
One actual detour Dion takes is a visit to an isolated service station when his fuel tank reveals there’s no more gasoline. Dressed in rags he found to cover his nakedness, but without any money to purchase gas and food, Dion offers to trade the wine in his back seat to Cruz, the lonely attendant at the station. After some conversation and a few drinks, Dion and Cruz form a friendship, and Dion risks another attacks by the crows as he lingers to help the young attendant with what he needs most: a means of making friends to end his loneliness.
Dion’s road trip, the mysterious creature in the trunk, and the sadistic crows provide an intriguing continuous storyline that runs throughout the book until the final destination. Though professionally written with good knowledge of grammar, sentence structure, philosophy, and mythology, this book would benefit from another round of proofreading to correct typographical errors and some selective editing of Dion’s visits to his dream worlds.
This intriguing mystery teases readers with a barrage of strange clues to keep them guessing about the surreal scenario that plagues Dion, the novel’s wine-guzzling hero.
~Carol Michaels for IndieReader