Guest Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose
Guest Review by Kelsey
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.
I received this book from Net Galley for an honest review and won a copy of the book in a Goodreads giveaway.
I really enjoyed The Collector of Dying Breaths. I thought it was well-written and full of mystery and suspense that drew you in right from the beginning.
It was fascinating to learn about the history of perfume making and Rene Bianco, Catherine de Medici’s personal perfumer. I wish the author had included more of the life of Rene, even if most of it was going to be fiction, since his life is a mystery. I felt like the story was hurried near the end. There was so much going on in the book that the quick and easy ending didn’t make sense. I just want to dismiss the ending of the book and draw my own conclusion because my own ending would be much more satisfying than the actual ending.
Other than my disappoint with the ending, my only other problems with the book are that Jac, our heroine, is a bit annoying and the romance aspects of the book takes away from the storyline, or at least it does in my opinion. My issues with Jac include her inability to come to terms with her grief, her lack of acceptance of her abilities to see and experience her past lives, and overthinking EVERTHING. Her lack of acceptance of the reincarnation is really annoying and it doesn’t help that she dwells on the past constantly. And not even on her past lives, but her recent past, which includes her love, Griffin. After a few chapters of her rambling of how she doesn’t accept her past lives, etc., it can be a bit much. Especially since she’s been seeing her past lives since she was a teenager. At this point in time, it’s just time to accept it and move on. Not to constantly dwell on it. She’s such a child when it comes to her past lives and even the world around her. She’s 32 years old! She should get over herself and grow up.
The romance of Jac and Griffin really is distracting from the plot. The romance of Rene and Isabeau makes sense and is central to the story. Griffin and Jac’s romance might be more logical if it had been written differently or if Jac wasn’t so self-involved. I really did find their romance distracting from the rest of the book. It seemed out of place, like it didn’t really belong there.
As a whole, I really enjoyed The Collector of Dying Breaths. It was exciting, suspenseful, and full of fascinating historical information.
I would recommend this book to fans of mystery/suspense and historical novels.
4 out of 5 stars