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Scent of Darkness (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – November 5, 2013


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Scent of Darkness (Vintage Contemporaries) + Hothouse Flower: and the Nine Plants of Desire (Vintage Contemporaries)
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Berwin follows Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire (2009) with a tale about the mysterious and luscious world of the aromata, professional perfume makers. Evangeline, Eva for short, loves spending the summer with her aromata grandmother, Louise, who works in a closed, empty room, trying to capture the scent of things like joy or shadows. Sometimes she is even successful in these efforts, but she will never share her secrets. When she dies, Louise leaves her house to 18-year-old Eva, who finds a handsome local med student, Gabriel, studying in the kitchen. As they explore the rambling house together, Eva grows more enamored of Gabriel every day. He finally convinces her to go into Louise’s sanctuary, the room where she made her scents, where Eva finds a gift for herself, a scent all her own. But a note warns her that if she removes the stopper, everything will change. The unexpected soon follows. Berwin’s prose is poetic and measured, and her enchanting novel will leave readers searching for a scent of their own. --Amber Peckham --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Sumptuous. . . . A story of first love, obsession, youthful sexuality and coming of age.” —The Washington Post 
 
“To give away the twists and turns in Scent of Darkness . . . would certainly be unfair, for Scent of Darkness is thoroughly engrossing.” —The New York Journal of Books
 
“Boys, you give them your heart and they just want to sniff your blood.” —Entertainment Weekly
 
“Berwin’s prose is poetic and measured, and her enchanting novel will leave readers searching for a scent of their own.” Amber Peckham, Booklist

“Berwin’s Creole-flavored romance . . . will provide plenty of pleasure to readers who enjoy a touch of magical realism in their fiction. Fans of such atmospheric writers as Alice Hoffman will find much to enjoy here.” —Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
 
“In Scent of Darkness, Berwin has created a compelling story surrounded by the mysterious and exotic world of New Orleans, where tarot cards foretell what’s yet to be, and fragrance is viewed as an ethereal, mystical creation capable of changing one’s life forever.” —Amber Castens, The News-Gazette
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307949818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307949813
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,348,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Here's my official bio--the one you'll find on my book jackets:
Margot Berwin is the author of two novels. Scent of Darkness and Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire. Her work has been translated into 19 languages. She received her MFA from the New School in 2005. Margot lives in NYC-forever and always.

And here's a little bit more to go on:

Writing is an active practice for me. Especially when I'm working on a first draft. I like to walk around my kitchen, drink, think, listen to music, record my own voice saying the lines that one day I'll put down on paper or on my computer--whichever mood strikes me.

Music is really important to me when I'm starting a new book. It can give me mood and place and feeling and motivation.

Just to keep things simple I'll put this bio in real-time and tell you what I'm listening to now (or in the last half-hour or so).

It's noon as I'm writing this and I'm listening to Alabama Shakes-How Many More Times. This song is great! Before that I was listening to Hold On by the same band. I don't really know this band but I heard about them and right now I'm liking them A LOT.

Before that it was Ryan Adams, What Sin Replaces Love.

And Lucinda Williams, Blessed. Awesome sound.

So that was my hour. That and writing and tweeting. How was yours?



Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ruth B. Ingram on April 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Evangaline is an otherworldly dreamy woman who tends to float through life -but when her Grandmother dies she leaves her a gift of a scent in a very small bottle. Now grandmother is or was an aromata who created scents especially related to the people she gives them too. Grandmother leaves a bottle of scent for Evangaline with a note of caution, This scent will change your life. And it does. As soon as Evangeline applies it things change for her, people follow her and surround her and smell her and try to lick her and it becomes overwhelming, and tiring and dangerous.

The premise of this novel is interesting however, its dialog is stilted, the characters flat and undeveloped and the story seems to move along without purpose or goal. A good editor might have greatly improved this novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie Brody TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Evangeline is eighteen years old when her aunt Louise dies. Aunt Louise, her closest of family members, is a wizard with scents. She has created a scent for Evangeline but after her death it is left in a spare white room with an obvious sign - open at your own risk. With the encouragement of Gabriel, the young man that Evangeline has a huge crush on, she opens the vial, and a wondrous scent emerges. It is one that is not identifiable but draws everyone to the person wearing the scent - and that is Evangeline.

In love with Gabriel, a medical student in New Orleans, Evangeline joins him there and the initiate a wonderful love affair. The only problem is that Evangeline is lonely because Gabriel is studying so much and is home rarely. Wherever she goes people follow her because of her scent. They can't get enough of her.

Gabriel introduces Evangeline to Michael, the darkness to his light. Michael is an artist and right away sees the way that Evangeline's scent can create better sales for him. He uses her to sell her paintings but meanwhile Evangeline is falling for him. She sees that he is casting a spell on her but is she strong enough to withstand it. Her true love is Gabriel. Her time with Michael is creating difficulties in her relationship with Gabriel.

This book reminded me of Perfume by Patrick Suskind, another book about the power of scent and man's inability to restrain himself when in its presence.

The book had its ups and downs and there were times I really enjoyed it and other times when I found it repetitive and underdeveloped. I never really understood who Gabriel was though I realized what he stood for. The same goes for Michael. They were mainly representations of good and bad without having their own characterizations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Snowbrocade VINE VOICE on August 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Scent of darkness is a modern day fairy tale of an eighteen-year-old woman obsessed with her relationships and her effect on other people. Eva is emotionally needy and unbalanced by a childhood mostly spent with a depressive mother who ignored her. Her summers with her grandmother in a small town in the country provided love she craved but even then her grandmother didn't care what Eva did, when she came home at night what she wore- a neglect that Eva viewed as trust but comes off as the self-obsessed tendency of her family.

When she is just out of high school her grandmother dies and Eva inherits the home she spent her summers in. She also inherits a special perfume that makes her irresistible and subsequently begins a torrid romance. Eva returns to her grandmother's native state, Louisiana, with her boyfriend who is in medical school in New Orleans. She magnetizes people and dogs to her with the perfume that has now become a part of her. She begins to wonder if she will ever be loved for herself.

This novel is the work of a highly talented and imaginative writer. However it is unbalanced and flawed by the obsessive nature of the narrative. The lack of substance of the protagonist is reflected in the story line making it melodramatic and unsatisfying. Despite this I am looking forward to her next work as I feel that the writing is only immature and that with time this author's writing will become spellbinding.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jenny Q @ Let Them Read Books VINE VOICE on February 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Scent of Darkness is a beautifully written novel of a young woman coming into her own, full of lyrical prose and lush description. The promise of a scent left to Evangeline after her grandmother's death, a scent that would change Evangeline's life forever, was very intriguing, as was the mystery surrounding the creation of that scent. The scent opens up plain and shy Evangeline's world, thrusting her into a spotlight she's unaccustomed to, making her stand out where before she had always blended in. It grants her fondest wish, that the beautiful, unattainable medical student Gabriel would return her feelings, but the fear that he is only in love with her scent pervades her happiness. Just when Evangeline thinks she has everything she wants, her scent attracts another man into her life, the artist Michael Bon Chance, who has a shady past and even shadier intentions, and Evangeline finds herself getting caught up in the dangerous side of her powerful scent, and ultimately fighting to reclaim her life and what is most important to her.

The story started well and ended well, and I was absorbed in the gorgeous writing, but the story lost me a bit in the middle. If only the characters had been as well developed as the writing style. Even though the story was told through Evangeline's first person point of view, I never felt like I got a really good handle on her character. I didn't understand how she could risk everything she had with Gabriel for such a flimsy connection with a man who obviously had ulterior motives. And neither Gabriel nor Michael were very developed either, despite the fact that they both bore the names of archangels and played opposing roles in Evangeline's journey.
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