Series Feature: The Inferno Verse

I love that there has been a resurgence in literature for young people that connects them to mythology, legends, and folklore from our human past. No matter the cultural heritage either of the story or of the reader, these tales form a foundation of shared experience that help readers of all ages better understand one another. This first story in the series steers readers through the tale of Dante’s Inferno by way of the character named Keisha Alighieri, daughter of the famous Dante himself. Action-packed and filled with characters from mythology, this is an enjoyable adventure for fans of Rick Riordan, The Lord of the Rings, and The Wizard of Oz. Please see my full review below!


For the last two years, Keisha Alighieri and her mother have done their best to get by without Keisha’s father. But one night, on their way home from seeing a superhero film together, a portal opens and Keisha’s mother is pulled abruptly away from Keisha and the world she has always known. Unaware of both her heritage and her mother’s whereabouts, Keisha must bravely venture through the portal herself, exemplifying the skills and behavior of her superhero idols along the way. The world of the Illicit opens before her, introducing Keisha to both new friends and a deeper sense of self as she discovers the truth of her legacy.

This upper middle grade novel is a modern retelling of Dante’s Inferno, reading much like the stories in the Rick Riordan canon, as well. Filled with action, adventure, and a host of characters from history and mythology, the narrative flows easily through the progression of Keisha’s journey. Much like The Wizard of Oz, Keisha has an important role to play, and she collects comrades at each stage of her travels. The story loosely follows the trajectory of the original narrative of Dante’s Inferno, but it has been transformed into a modern context for contemporary readers to more easily comprehend.

Confident middle grade readers with an interest in classic literature will appreciate the design and delivery of this book and its connection to Dante’s Inferno. While it would benefit from a richer exposition and a thorough copy edit, the overall delivery accomplishes the goal of connecting readers to beliefs and philosophies of centuries past. A trigger warning and glossary at the beginning of the book establish the foundation of the novel for readers, ensuring that readers have any information necessary to understand the context of the tale they are about to read. Fast-paced and engaging, this is a compelling introduction to Dante’s Inferno for upper middle grade readers, and it will leave them eagerly awaiting the second installment.

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