Review: Scent of Darkness by Margot Berwin

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
In her best-selling debut, Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire, Margot Berwin brought us to the rain forests of Mexico—to a land of shamans, spirit animals, and snake charmers—in the search for nine rare and valuable plants. Now, with her hotly anticipated second novel, Berwin takes us somewhere darker: deep into the bayous of Louisiana, to a world of fortune-tellers, soothsayers, and potent elixirs. Scent of Darknessis a magical, seductive story about the power of scent, and about what happens when a perfume renders a young woman irresistible.

Evangeline grows up understanding the extraordinary effects of fragrance. Her grandmother Louise is a gifted aromata, a master of scent-making and perfume. When Eva was a girl, Louise carefully explained that lavender under her pillow would make her dream of the man she would marry; eucalyptus would make her taller; almandine, fatter; and jasmine, Louise promised, would wrap her life in a mystery. When Eva is eighteen, Louise leaves her the ultimate gift—a scent created just for her. The small perfume vial is accompanied by a note in Louise’s slanted script: “Do not remove the stopper, Evangeline, unless you want everything in your life to change.”

From the moment Eva places a drop—the essence of fire, leather, rose, and jasmine—on her neck, men dance closer to her, women bury their noses deep into her hair, even the cats outside her bedroom cry to be near her. After a lifetime spent blending into the background, Eva is suddenly the object of intense desire to everyone around her. Strangers follow her down the street; a young boy appears at her door asking for a favor; and two men, one kind and good, the other dark and seductive, fall deeply, madly in love with her. As her greatest gift becomes an unbearable curse, Eva must uncover the secret of her scent and the message her grandmother, the woman who loved her most, wanted to tell her.

A bewitching tale of love, blood, power, and magic, Scent of Darkness is a wildly inventive novel that will seduce the reader’s every sense.

When I first heard of Margot Berwin's Scent of Darkness, I was instantly intrigued. It sounded different, very different, from my usual read, and I was especially curious about the whole scent aspect. Luckily, Scent of Darkness turned out to be a tantalizingly good book, one that had me hooked from the first page to the last.

Scent of Darkness begins the story of Eva, a seemingly ordinary girl. Raised by a single mother who never seemed to care, Eva always appreciated her summers in the New York countryside with Louise, her eccentric yet loving grandmother. However, everything changes for Eva when Louise dies suddenly the winter Eva turns 18. Suddenly, Eva doesn't know who she is or what she wants. What she does know is that she misses her grandmother terribly. Therefore, when she finds out Louise has left her house to her, Eva packs up her bags and heads up there, not looking back. This summer, the first without Louise, will be different from any summer before though. Eva's about to learn more about herself and her grandmother than she could have possibly ever imagined, and she's going to be caught between two boys, one good and one bad, both of whom may possibly cause her defeat.

Scent of Darkness had a lot of good things going for it, and one of those aspects was without a doubt the plot. From the start, I was hooked on finding about more about the different scents. It was such a unique and interesting idea, especially when Margot introduced the forbidden, life changing scent that Louise had made for Eva.  It caused a lot of plot twists and turns as well as plenty of character development. Secondly, I enjoyed the romance between Eva and Gabriel. It was interesting to see how it all tied in with the scent dilemma. Plus Gabriel was pretty great.

I also really enjoyed the characters in this. Sure, Eva was a bit young, naive sometimes, but I still had no problem rooting for as the book progressed. Furthermore, I liked how Margot really managed to develop a "go girl power!" with Eva's character. I won't say to much but Eva learns a lot about herself in this as well as what inner beauty and self -confidence means. The addition of Eva's grandmother (she was such a nifty woman), the townspeople from New York, and the young boy Eva meets in New Orleans were done well too, in my opinion.

Lastly, the writing in this caused a lot of high points. I loved how greatly Margot developed both settings (the one in New Orleans and the one in New York). With the descriptions contained as well as Eva's adventures in both, I really felt like I was with her. Better yet, I really enjoyed how this book and its writing made me thing about different things in life. It has a lot of substance and thought to it, all of which I enjoyed greatly.

In all, Scent of Darkness is unusual book but an incredibly good one. It's perfect for fans of contemp with a little magic and darkness!

Grade: B+

Scent of Darkness (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out!

Source: Publisher


  1. I tend to like books that are very different. Thanks for the heads-up on this one, Lauren.

  2. I love books with settings in New Orleans! I hadn't heard of this before, so thank you for sharing your thoughts!


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