Reviewed by Andrea Marks-Joseph
A cinematic Toronto adventure depicting the ancient Greek gods as flawed eternal beings and fractured families living in a modern world
Dio in the Dark is a delightful reimagined future for Olympian gods. An ode to Greek mythology, this adventure offers something fresh and unique to their stories, and it proves to be an excellent choice for fans of both legends and urban fantasy.
This is the story of a father—Zeus, king of the gods—and the complicated relationship he has with his two sons Dionysus and Apollo. While they’re languishing in the pleasures of contemporary life, mistrust and betrayal burns bright between them. When impending doom hangs over them, the gods are left feeling as though they’re grasping at straws to stop it. They’ve navigated the modern world with mortals for so long that their powers are not as strong.
When Zeus suddenly goes missing, Dio discovers that his father is being held hostage as part of an overwhelming darkness that’s festering because the mortals are forgetting about the gods. “Zeus was bound not by steel, enchanted or other wise, but by the dismissal of his legend, the failure of the modern scribes to engrave his deeds into the tablets of modern men.” The gods work to revive the mortals’ knowledge of the pantheon.
Dio encounters various primordial deities and mythological monsters as he embarks on the quest to find and rescue his father—and the entire mortal world. Each of the many characters we meet have well-developed personalities and welcome complexity. The author (Rizwan Asad) takes this story to The Underworld, secret underground parties, and to the powerful depths of Instagram.
The story is rich with a sense of familial duty, distant grief, and a rediscovering of self. It’s also filled with humorous beats: Hades is in the very lucrative insurance business; Hestia is actually Martha Stewart—and in this world, also has a show with Snoop Dogg. Dio goes to a nightclub to dance with Death (literally), and he is presented with life lessons on wallowing from Sisyphus himself. The goddess Aphrodite is a social media icon, and the god of sleep incarnate “looks like the little old man from Up.”
It’s a story as delicious and full-bodied as the ancient Greek wine Dio adores.
Dio in the Dark is a truly captivating, intriguing adventure with so much new life brought to the mythology that one can’t help but wish for more.
While set in modern Toronto, Dio in the Dark turns the city radiant with all the possibilities of ancient magic. The visuals are colorful and stylized, with gorgeous landscapes and stunning locations. Asad’s writing is vivid and descriptive—making it impossible not to feel as if you have climbed through a vibrantly drawn storybook, or crept right into the scene in the middle of a cinematic otherworldly battle.
I hope there’s more of the Dio in the Dark universe to come. It would make a fantastic series with its dynamic, accessible worldbuilding and its imaginative additions to the intricate histories of the gods.
Genre: Fantasy / Mythology
Print Length: 168 pages
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