Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by: M.J. Rose

Rating: 5/5

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: April 8, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Book Links:  Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Synopsis: A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion...and past and present. 

Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici's perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines — and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn't begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible. 

Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L'Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin's work — particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac's efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin's mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir... a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. 

This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici's court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.

Series: The Reincarnationist (1), The Memorist (2), The Hypnotist (3), The Book of Lost Fragrances (4), Seduction (5), The Collector of Dying Breaths

Review: Switching between Italy in the 1500s and present-day France, THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS speaks to the search for immortality and resurrection through scent. Jac L’Etoile, world-renowned mythologist has just lost the last of her family. When she discovers the work of René le Florentin left unfinished by her brother, she’s determined to complete it. In the past it is René le Florentin’s own story we are introduced to, his youth and his work for Catherine d’Medici. In any time, there are those who want to have the secret to immortality no matter the cost. Along with Griffin North, her former lover, Jac must navigate the truth through the whitewash of history. THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is an exquisite tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption. I love learning more of the history of perfumery which is intertwined with the fictional tales of Jac and René. The author has the uncanny ability to create a rich story layered with emotion built through scent. The characters and history blaze off the pages and draw in readers deeply. THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is a magnificent tale and will touch your soul.

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