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Scent of Darkness: A Novel Hardcover – January 29, 2013
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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
Praise for Scent of Darkness
“Anyone with a nose can tell you that pheromones are dangerous. But in this Louisiana-based novel, Scent of Darkness, Evangeline learns that lesson the hard way. When her grandmother dies, she leaves behind a perfume, created from Evangeline's own scent, that makes this plain girl so irresistible that strangers bury their faces in her hair. Soon she's torn between Gabriel, a quiet student, and Michael, a fiery artist. Berwin captures New Orleans’ mystical juju perfectly.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Elegant, introspective . . . [A] sumptuous faux memoir—a story of first love, obsession, youthful sexuality and coming of age. . . . Buy this pungent romance for your niece’s graduation, then try to look innocent when she elopes with the postman.” —Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Profound thoughts are deeply explored by the protagonist Evangeline (aka Eva) in Scent of Darkness. . . . Fascinating . . . Which path will Eva choose and with what outcome? Will the powerful scent be used for evil or good? To answer this question would be to give away the twists and turns in Scent of Darkness—and that would certainly be unfair, for Scent of Darkness is thoroughly engrossing.” —Laura Schultz, New York Journal of Books
“Berwin follows Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire with a tale about the mysterious and luscious world of the aromata, professional perfume makers. . . . 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. . . . Can a person truly be only of darkness, or of light? Or is it possible that we're all a little bit of both?” —Amber Castens, The News-Gazette
Praise for Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
“The great escapist novel . . . [A] shameless guilty pleasure of a romp that involves black panthers, poisonous snakes, scorpions, and the Adonis-like son of a Huichol Indian shaman . . . [A] sultry, psychedelic summer soufflé of a read.”—Elle
“Sensual, voluptuous . . . Berwin vividly evokes the mosquito-loud, velvety blackness of a rain forest night.” —National Geographic Traveler
“Berwin makes a clever imaginative leap in her first novel, creating her own horticultural myth and then fashioning a lively novel around it.” —The Boston Globe
“Take two parts Carlos Castañeda, one part Sunset garden book, and top with a splash of Indiana Jones . . . Shameless, sweet, and deceptively potent.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Seductive interludes and exotic adventures define Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire . . . A guide on plant mythology, spirit animals, curanderos (healers) and the mystery that can guide us to spiritual discovery, if only we open up to it.” —Austin American-Statesman
“A psychedelic adventure.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[A] grown-up fairy tale full of mysticism, shamans, and animal spirits. Light and breezy, it’s also full of romance.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Mesmerizing . . . transports the reader to the dark, hot bayous of Louisiana, where Tarot card readers, fortune tellers and healers populate the story . . the setting of New Orleans exudes the smells, sounds and sights that only Louisiana can conjure up. Engulfed in the heady mix of scents and lust, Evangeline learns that sometimes what looks like a gift can turn out to be a curse . . . sensual.”
—Shelley Civkin, Richmond Review
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Top customer reviews
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Just after our heroine Eva's first erotic encounter, the novel's premise is made explicit through the words of Eva's deceased grandma, Louise from Louisiana:
"When Gabriel was gone his glandular scent, earthy and sweet, lingered in the room. I remembered Louise telling me that a good scent should not smell like a perfume, but like nature itself, including all aspects of the natural world, dark and animal as well as light and floral."
I enjoyed this novel not just as the coming-of-age story of our nasally gifted heroine but as a tribute to the most mysterious, alluring and elusive of the five senses.
It really repeated the same old story throughout the novel. I had to finish what t I started, but it was a challenge. would have been nice to write, he was the most interesting character.
Scent of Darkness, while better than most books whose premise is a bit "out there" Scent of Darkness just doesn't have the same suck-you-in-and-make-you-seriously-wonder quotient
Ms. Burwin's first book did: I mean for real, she had me seeing,smelling, and believing a magical tropical greenhouse within a New York laundrymat but not this time... thus the three stars.
The story just didn't flow, kept hitting shallow spots where, as other reviewers have commented, the characters seemed to morph
from living, breathing, albeit very weird people into one dimensional stick characters.
Ms. Burwin is capable of much better, as can be seen within this very book on the occasions when her characters do come alive for us.
Did not find the story line enthralling in general and too simplistic especially in the solutions to the character's problems. Example: taking a 14 year old boy from New Orleans back to New York
without permission, or even a bye-your-leave. Just too simple, too easy, too unbelievable.
All negatives about this book aside, Ms.Burwin is a talented young woman with unlimited potential. I look forward to her next effort.