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Feature book: Gabriel’s Inferno

27 February 2013

Gabriel's InfernoGabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

Rarely has a story come along that has taken my breath away. When I started to read Gabriel’s Inferno, I was engaged from the first page and by the end of the first chapter I was hooked. I knew this book would be a masterpiece.

Julia Mitchell has enrolled at Toronto University to study for her Masters Degree in Italian Studies, specialising in the life and works of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), who is best known for his work The Divine Comedy. She had planned to attend Harvard, but could not afford the fees. She is to study under renowned Dante expert, Professor Gabriel Emerson. Julia regards him with trepidation, because she has met him before. Gabriel does not remember their previous meeting and is very annoyed by her demeanour. He orders her to meet him in his office after the seminar.

Julia fails to keep the meeting because she overhears a phone conversation Gabriel is conducting and it is obvious he is receiving bad news. She leaves him a note, which leads to a series of misunderstandings. She is eventually told by Gabriel that he will no longer allow her in his program. She is devastated and walks home in the rain. Gabriel is driving home and sees Julia who is wet and bedraggled. He gives her a lift home and is appalled by her living conditions and lack of food, so he takes her to a restaurant for dinner. Gabriel is tormented by his own demons but is drawn to Julia against his better judgment. The university has a strict no-fraternisation policy between teaching staff and students and this could have disastrous consequences for them both.

Both characters have had tortured pasts and at times I found them to be quite frustrating. Unbeknownst to Gabriel, he and Julia have a mysterious connection, which Julia remembers. Julia has a beautiful, shy soul despite her upbringing, whereas Gabriel has sought to assuage his demons by dark means. They conduct a sensual, intimate, romantic relationship that builds their passion and love for each other and gradually aids each other in their quests for redemption.

This story began on a Twilight fan fiction page as ‘The University of Edward Mason’. The author draws on the romance between Dante and Beatrice as inspiration and delves into his love of food, music and Renaissance art in his work. The novel is a deserved USA Today and New York Times bestseller.

reviewed by Nicola S

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

  1. 3 March 2013 1:50 am

    Hi these books are brilliant reads which have really touched me, they are enriching tales! This author resonates within to want to be a better person, he is a great humanitarian as I follow him on Twitter!

  2. 2 March 2013 9:21 pm

    I read and LOVED this story when it was still only released by amazon. This is a deeply moving and passionate tale that brings to life Dante’s amazing history and romance today. Can’t wait for the other installments.

    • 2 March 2013 9:27 pm

      I also think love involves overwrought emotions and misunderstandings. We show our best and our worst because we care so much. This book wasn’t perfect. But that is why it is so good because no real love story is. No two people are. There was something inherently REAL about this book. That is just my opinion 🙂

  3. 28 February 2013 3:38 pm

    I also disagree about the editorial comments. I have had the misfortune to review some very poorly written and edited books. This was not one of them. Reading a book is a subjective experience, and thiis book provided what I was looking for, but obviously doesn’t appeal to everyone.

  4. 28 February 2013 11:04 am

    Thanks for your comments as I understand where they are coming from. When I was first asked to do the review, I hesitated, as the books were touted as erotic fiction and I thought that they would be yet another version of 50 Shades. I would not class them as erotic fiction at all, but as sensual fiction and I found it refreshing to read something more literary instead of a poor man’s rehash. However, in the second book, ‘Gabriel’s Rapture’, I found the references to Dante and Beatrice repetitive. I strongly suggest having a break in between reading the books. I did just that, and enjoyed both books, but my mother read them consecutively and did not enjoy the second book as much.
    I also found the story behind the book to be quite fascinating. It began life on the same Twilight fan fiction page as 50 Shades and, I believe, at a similar time. The author writes under a nom de plume and is thought to be a university professor. It is unknown whether the author is male or female.
    I must admit that I read the Twilight series and 50 Shades out of curiosity.but am not a huge fan. I have read much better vampire and erotic fiction, though I can see the appeal for readers in the obsessive love stories both evoke.

  5. aimskye permalink
    27 February 2013 4:06 pm

    Great review Nicola, I knew the story sounded familiar!


    • 27 February 2013 4:50 pm

      I really wanted to like this book but it was so overwrought and filled with too many silly misunderstandings that I just couldn’t. Which annoyed me quite a bit because I love the basic storyline and it’s one of my favorite topics.
      I think this is editorial fail – it could have been great with some judicious cutting and polishing.
      I hoped the second book would be better…it wasn’t – just more of the same.
      Save yourself some frustration and wait till the author polishes her writing a bit more.
      Or gets a better editor.

    • 28 February 2013 3:40 pm

      Thanks, Aimee, glad to know the review was helpful!

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