Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Scent of Darkness

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Scent of Darkness
Author: Margot Berwin
Publisher: Pantheon
Pages: Hardcover; 240
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Source: Publisher
Genre: Paranormal Fiction

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoy elegant prose and descriptive writing.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Evangeline is eighteen years old when her grandmother gives her the ultimate gift-a scent she has created just for her. From the moment Eva places a drop on her neck, her entire life changes. Previously unnoticed, she becomes the object of intense desire for everyone around her. Men dance close to her; women dip their noses deep into her hair; even the cats outside her bedroom cry to be near her. Gabriel, the quiet student Eva has admired from afar, falls head-over-heels in love with her. But soon the gift begins to control Eva's life: strangers follow her around, sniffing and touching her at every turn. When Eva meets Michael, an artist who barely registers her smell, Eva wonders if he is the one person who can love her for herself. Or is her scent impossible to escape? A bewitching, wildly imaginative novel steeped in the mythology of perfume, Scent of Darkness seduces the reader's every sense.

I'm really at a loss as to how to explain my feelings about Scent of Darkness now that I've finished. There are so many things that I completely loved about this book, and so many others that just won't sit right in my mind. If there was one thing I could say definitely at this moment in time, it's this: Scent of Darkness is more than what it seems to be. Let me try to break it down for you.

First off I have to praise Margot Berwin's writing. Without a doubt, this is what really kept me reading above all else. Her sweeping prose draws the reader into a world that is rich in color, texture, and of course scents. The blood of New Orleans runs deep through this book and, even though Evangeline's grandmother isn't in it for long, her character is the embodiment of her culture. Berwin weaves a dark and mysterious tale. It's hard not to be drawn in.

However, despite the elegant and prosaic writing, it was the story itself that kept me wavering between utter love and total despair while reading. Evangeline is not a very well fleshed out character, and really neither are any of the rest of the people who make stops in and out of her life. I understood her well enough. A girl who isn't wanted by her mother, and loses her only mother figure, Evangeline ends up on a path to self-discovery with no one to turn to for advice. I couldn't hate her for her naivety, but I also felt like she never grew at all either.

Then there are the two male interests. In an effort not to give anything important away, I'll simply let you know that these two men are like night and day. Gabriel seems to be the epitome of good, Michael that of evil, and we watch as Evangeline is torn between the two. I would have been fine with this, but neither of them truly spoke to me as compatible with her. It's like they were there to simply fill space. I wanted sparks, I wanted romance, I suppose I just wanted her to feel something.

So, as you can see, my feelings about Scent of Darkness ended up rather conflicted. I think that this was a great premise, with wonderful writing. The execution of it all is what threw me off. For those of you who enjoy literary fiction, this might be more of a hit. I can't deny that I don't usually read books like this, so it is entirely possible I'm biased. Point being, give this a shot and decide for yourself! If nothing else you'll be allowed to dive into the beauty that is Margot Berwin's writing, and that is a treat in itself.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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