About the Book:
• Hardcover: 240 pages
• Publisher: Pantheon (January 29, 2013)
• Publisher: Pantheon (January 29, 2013)
In Margot Berwin’s hotly anticipated second novel she takes us somewhere darker, deep into the bayous of Louisiana, to a world of fortune-tellers, soothsayers, and potent elixirs: a magical, seductive story about the power of scent–and what happens when a perfume renders a young woman irresistible.
Evangeline grows up understanding the extraordinary effects of fragrance. Her grandmother, Louise, is a gifted aromata, a master in the art of scent-making and perfume. When Eva was a girl, Louise carefully explained the way lavender under her pillow would make her dream of the man she would marry; eucalyptus would make her taller; almondine, fatter; and jasmine, she promised, would wrap her entire life in a mystery. When Eva is eighteen, Louise passes away and leaves her the ultimate gift—a scent created just for her. The small ruby vial of perfume with a stopper thin as a human hair is accompanied by a note in Louise’s slanted script: “Do not remove the stopper, Evangeline, unless you want everything in your life to change.”
From the moment Eva places a drop on her neck—the essence of fire, leather, red velvet rose and jasmine—men dance closer to her; women busy their faces deep into her hair; even the cats outside her bedroom cry to be near her. After a lifetime spent blending into the background, Eva is suddenly the object of intense desire for everyone around her. Strangers follow her down the street, a young boy appears at her door asking for a favor, and two men, one kind and good, the other evil and seductive, fall deeply, madly in love with her.
A bewitching tale of love, blood, power, and magic, Scent of Darkness is a wildly inventive novel that will seduce the reader’s every sense.
About the Author:
Margot Berwin is the author of the best-selling novel Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. Her work has been translated into nineteen languages. She earned her MFA from the New School in 2005 and lives in New York City.
I chose to read this because it sounded different; it would be a change for me from my usual type of book. I don't pick many literary novels as you well know because I'm not an allegorical thinker and I often find they go over my head. Sometimes I am rewarded with a book I adore, sadly this time I found myself drowning in confusion. It is not, I don't think, completely the fault of the author as the writing is in some parts very evocative of time, place and feeling. I think the problem was my inability to go beyond the literal and appreciate her magical and fantastic elements. So here we go, I'll try but this was not one of my favorites.
Evangeline is a woman born to a mother who really didn't care whether she existed or not. Her grandmother Louise gave her the only love she ever had. She would go and spend summers in her grandmother's house in New York where she heard stories of Louise's past in Louisiana and the powers of scent. Louise was an aromata - a maker of scents and she believed that it was the most powerful of the senses. Louise dies and leaves Evangeline (Eva) her house and all of its secrets.
When Eva goes to the house for the first time after her grandmother's death she finds a young man there - Gabriel. She knows him from town but why is he there? He says it's the only quiet place in town he can study. He's in med school and he didn't think Louise would mind. Eva thinks this is a sign the Louise has "left" him to her. In their explorations of the house they find Louise's work room and a box she left for Evangeline with a note telling her to only open it if she wants her life to change completely. Guess what?
The box contains a vial with a liquid that when applied gives Eva a scent that draws people to her. Especially Gabriel. They soon become a couple, move to New Orleans so Gabriel can go back to Tulane and Eva is now bored every day while he is in school. So she goes off and starts sitting for their landlord, a mediocre portrait artist who has nefarious plans in mind.
Bad things happen. Weird things happen. There is a fortune telling 14 year old boy in the mix.
I also felt that it didn't live up to the synopsis in that the power of this scent of Evangeline's was truly never fully explored or to me anyway, explained. There is an explanation but it too went over my head. I am not saying don't read it because there are some good reviews for it, I am just saying it was not for me.
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Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Scent of Darkness from TLC Book Tours for my honest review. I received no compensation for this post.