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Valley of the Dead: The Truth Behind Dante's Inferno
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Valley of the Dead: The Truth Behind Dante's Inferno

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  142 ratings  ·  19 reviews
For seventeen years of his life, the whereabouts of the medieval Italian poet Dante Alighieri is unknown to modern scholars. All we know is that during this time, he traveled as an exile across Europe, while working on his epic poem, The Divine Comedy. In his masterpiece he describes a journey through the three realms of the afterlife. The volume describing hell, Inferno, ...more
Hardcover, Deluxe Lettered Hardcover Edition, 220 pages
Published August 2009 by Cargo Cult Press
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3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  142 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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A "MASHED" review with some assistance from Monty Python, the World's funniest cross-dressers:
...with apologies to Dame Edna, Eddie Izzard and J.Edgar Hoover.

This was not an enjoyable experience. A sloggy, down-letting journey that left me HoHumming all the way to MEHville. After seeing some very positive reviews about this story, I was irked to find myself as indifferent to the book as I turned out to be. It’s possible my “lack of interest” may have partially stemmed from my having read a num
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like some famous author of the days of yore, Dante has had a blackout on his timeline. Paffenroth posits in this book that during that time Dante had some...shall we say adventures, very disturbing, morbid, gory adventures that have inspired his Inferno. And so the author goes on to render a vivid and eerie detail the late Middle Ages with zombies and Dante and his acquired companions must travel through the eponymous valley of the dead to safety. Certainly a journey like that might inspire some ...more
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many of my friends look down on my taste for horror fiction as being rather low brow, especially when it comes to zombie fiction. What they don't understand is that horror is great vehicle for exploring a wide range of themes, whether it be social, spiritual or philosophical. If ever a book was the perfect antidote for such views, this is it.

Dr Paffenroth's book, Valley of the Dead, starts off based on a clever idea, that Dante's Inferno was inspired by his real life experiences and asks us the
Colleen Wanglund
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Dante Alighieri spent seventeen years of his life in exile from his home in Italy. Scholars do not know where he was or what he did, other than spend that time writing his masterpiece THE DIVINE COMEDY. His most famous part of that epic poem is The Inferno in which Dante paints a truly frightening vision of Hell. VALLEY OF THE DEAD is the account of what Dante experienced that brought him to write Inferno. Travelling through an Eastern European valley with a woman, a soldier, and a monk, Dante e ...more
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Not sure why I hadn't read this sooner. Gruesome in parts, beautiful thought provoking prose in others, thoroughly enjoyed this reimagining of Dante's Inferno. Highly recommended.
Patrick D'Orazio
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
After hearing about this book coming out last year and then seeing an ad during the Superbowl for a new video game based on Dante's Inferno (and an animated movie to go along with the game), I was kind of curious if Dante was getting some sort of revival. The video game, from my understanding, took some tremendous liberties with the original story, but Kim Paffenroth was far more subtle with the adjustments he made to create this wonderfully dark journey into hell on earth.

Lately, there have be
Nov 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Veteran zombie scribe Kim Paffenroth (Dying to Live) is back with a new take on the zombie theme. In Valley of the Dead, Paffenroth looks at the poet Dante Aligheri (of Divine Comedy fame) and his time in exile. What if, instead of a fantastic tale of hell and the supernatural, Dante's Inferno was really inspired by Dante's journey through a valley plagued by the undead?

It quickly becomes apparent that this isn't your everyday zombie story. Sure, flesh-eating ghouls are the driving force behind
Nick Cato
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Despite talks (within the genre) of zombies being just about "as played out" as vampires, there seems to be a fresh take on them nearly every month . . . but few have been as interesting (or intelligent) as Kim Paffenroth's VALLEY OF THE DEAD, which takes its cue from visions seen in Dante's INFERNO and imagines what he went through during his 17-year exile from Italy (a timeline of his life is provided for us mere mortals!).

The author's prologue itself is worth the cover price (which is a bit s
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: zombies-adult
Valley of the Dead is classic Paffenroth, a moody, dark, delicate blend of religion and zombies. In this "True Story" version of Dante's Inferno, it's easy to see why Paffenroth is drawn to horror and religion simultaneously. Valley of the Dead is a deceptively straightforward tale. Dante, author and narrator of the classic fourteenth century epic poem The Inferno, finds himself wandering in a strange valley filled with people besieged by a plague of the undead, who live their lives with a fierc ...more
Sep 13, 2011 rated it liked it
After reviewing just a few of its pages I was instantly hooked and knew I had to read it. Beautifully brilliantly, and vividly written, it was a joy to read. I have never read Dante's Inferno but from the small amount I know about it it seemed to be written in its spirit and was definitely not just another zombie book. The zombies and their attack seemed only a small part of the novel, more important was the depravity of the living. It was very philosophical and thought provoking but at times ve ...more
Dawn Peers
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I came across this when looking for my next zombie fix on Audible. As a fan of some Permuted Press authors (most namely the late ZA Recht and his Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain I was stunned and slightly ashamed to have not come across Kim Paffenroth before.

In "Valley of the Dead" Paffenroth takes the theory that to have written what he did in Dante: Inferno (Penguin Classics), Aligheri must have seen the horror of the undead first hand for himself.

However as the other reviewer, what
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
This audiobook surprised me. It was not what I thought it was going to be. I thought I would get a comparison of specific cantos and a lecture of what we historically thought Dante was doing during that time. Well, each chapter starts with a snippet from a canto, but then it tells a fictional story of Dante's life during a specific section of the inferno. It explains Dante's specific treatment of "canibalism, live burnings, evisceration, crucifixion in Inferno" by his continuous run in with plag ...more
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of zombies and/or sociology/theology.
Very nice quality binding, and great writing so far...

UPDATE: Finished this, and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Not your usual zombie novel, more of a social and religious commentary using the missing years of Dante as a platform to analyse humanity's strengths and weaknesses. The characters were vaguely archetypal representations of the virtuous maiden, the hero, the intellectual and the wise and pious man. These characters encountered others that may have represented the sins of mankind, such as anger,
Jan 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Well it was a slog to get through this. The biggest issue I have with the book is that I couldn't work out if it's an attempt to provide an explanation for Dante's Inferno or a book along the lines of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I've finished the book and am still not sure. I think if the author had made a leap one way or the other it would have been more enjoyable.
Nov 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
This was a good enough zombie story. I've never read Dante's Inferno or know much about Dante or anything so this story was more or less just a zombie story to me. Maybe it would have had a bigger effect if i had known more about Dante to understand maybe more of the character that was created of him in this story.
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Interesting behind-the-story kind of story... with zombies. I haven't ever read Dante's Inferno - maybe if I had it would have resonated more. But a well-written book nonetheless.
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: apocalypse-wow
Pretty clever idea. I liked it, pretty gruesome but a nice escape.
Michele Lee
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed for

A deceptively straight forward tale, in Valley of the Dead, classic literary hero Dante finds himself wandering in a strange valley, filled with strange people who, besieged by a strange plague of undead, live their lives with a fierce, often sinful, form of passion. The zombies themselves are also metaphors, filled with "rage at [the living:], with seething jealousy that they were alive, and overwhelming frustration that [the zombie:] could not make them dead."
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I am a professor of religious studies, and the author of several books on the Bible and theology. I grew up in New York, Virginia, and New Mexico. I attended St. John's College, Annapolis, MD (BA, 1988), Harvard Divinity School (MTS, 1990), and the University of Notre Dame (PhD, 1995). I live in upstate New York with my wife and two wonderful kids. In the horror genre, I have written Gospel of the ...more