The Young Inferno
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
A young teenager wakes to find himself in a strange forest, and meets Aesop, author of the famous fables, who tells him he will take him on a journey to the depths of Hell. Ferried over the River of Death by Charon, the teen crosses from the First Circle of Hell in to the Second, where he meets Frankenstein, the bouncer at the door of a realm of lovesick souls. In the Third Circle, the teen meets gluttons from history and considers the sins of food mountains when people are starving. Finally, Aesop leads the boy to the Ninth Circle of Hell, where the generals and despots of the past have taken on crocodile skins and recount their past glories. Can the teenager find his way back to his world – and what – or who – will be his saviour there?
John Agard’s mash up of Dante’s Inferno and Aesop’s Fables, with quirky and sometimes horror-influenced illustrations from Satoshi Kitamura, takes young readers through the circles of Hell in an abbreviated version of 13 poem-chapters. Agard’s tale is humorous as well as dark, and there are hints throughout to people we might recognize from history in his tales. His poetry mixes the rhythms and some of the language of the original Dante with a modern, slightly hip-hop feel, making a truly enjoyable and totally original read.
Please note there are a couple of mild swear words included.