Are you among the many whose first fantasy book was an Andre Norton young adult novel? Scent of Magic
is the latest in a long line of good old-fashioned Norton sword-and-sorcery tales. As always, Norton provides an intriguing premise: in this world, both good and evil magic are tied to plants and their scents.
The orphan Willadene has "the ability to recognize and name the most subtle of mixed scents," including the taint of evil. After she saves Hawice the Herbmistress from a magical trap, Hawice brings her to the Ducal castle. There Willadene meets the Duke's sheltered daughter Mahart, who is preparing for a marriage that will give her father an heir. Willadene also works with Nicolas, who spies for the Duke. When Mahart is abducted after meeting Prince Lorien, her intended fiancé, Willadene, Nicolas, and the Prince set out to find her and track down those responsible. Mahart and Willadene prove brave and resourceful, equal partners in the final struggle.
The writing isn't always up to Norton's standards; sentences are sometimes of baroque complexity. But fans of the Witch World series and those nostalgic for fairy-tale fantasy should seek out Scent of Magic. --Nona Vero
From Publishers Weekly
The veteran Norton concocts a heady mixture of Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and aromatherapy in this new magical adventure. Scullery maid Willadene, 16, no sooner escapes from her cruel Aunt Jacoba's tavern than her gift, the ability to nose out the auras of Good and Evil, leads her into the service of innocent young High Lady Mahart, the victim of gorgeously wicked Aunt Saylana, who is scheming for the ducal throne of Kronengred?and more. To counterpoint her adolescent girl heroines Willadene and Mahart, Norton swirls familiar ingredients into her time-tested story recipe (the Witch World series), such as the intrepid spy Nicolas, the dashing warrior-prince Lorien, assorted evil uglies both human and unearthly and an enigmatic creature named Ssssaaa, the most intriguing of the lot. After 60 years of creating popular fantasy worlds, Norton can be forgiven the few dangling ends and generally conventional approach of this aromatic Disney-esque sword-and-sorcery tale.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.