The Crusade of Darkness

Written by Giulio Leoni
Review by pdr lindsay-salmon

This novel I found confusing, the plot a bit of a muddle. The cover states that The Crusade of Darkness is a mediaeval murder mystery starring the poet Dante Alighieri. Well, there were several eviscerated bodies, but no active attempt to track down the murderer. There was lots of rain, some floods, a pagan sect, a plot to overthrow Pope Boniface, various battles Dante found himself fighting in, and, as seems the trend in historicals these days, a female who ran around in men’s clothes, or fancy dress, and behaved like a modern miss. Dante seemed to be pulled along by events, not taking control of them. And for a prior, he was a grumpy, priggish, and randy man. Perhaps the book was meant to mirror Dante’s Inferno; I found it hellish difficult to read.

The series has had good reviews, and usually I enjoy novels in translation. There’s a taste of a different culture and a new way of looking at things. A lot depends on the translator, though. This novel suffered a little from odd translations: ‘refresh your hands’ rather than “wash your hands’, and some clumsy sentences which jerked me out of the story. Possibly the term ‘murder mystery’ confused me into expecting a different type of novel. If you enjoy a touch of the occult, battles and mediaeval confusion, then you will enjoy The Crusade of Darkness.