Friday, 25 April 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths

Author: M.J Rose
Type: Kindle e-book Advanced Reading Copy
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Supernatural, Historical Fiction, Suspense
Series: 6th book in the Reincarnationist series
Publisher: Atria Books
First Published: April 8, 2014
First Line: "March 1, 1574 - Barbizon, France.  Written for my son to read upon my death, from his father, Rene le Florentin, perfumer to Catherine de Medici, Queen Mother."

Book Description from GoodReadsA 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.

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  Sometimes my expectations get the better of me.  This was the case here because the book that I read was different from the one I had expected.  I had expected an historical fiction read with touches of supernatural and a healthy dose of suspense. Three of my favourite genres rolled into one?!  Sign me up!  What I got was a book that was lighter on the historical fiction and suspense that I would have liked with romance taking a much larger role in the plot.  That's not to say that I didn't like this book but I was really looking forward to learning more about the infamous Catherine de Medici and came away with a better knowledge of this nefarious and calculating queen but not as in-depth as I was hoping.

This book has a lot going for it and with the different genres involved may appeal to a wide range of readers.  I was riveted to the book for the first two-thirds because the pace was high, I found the details involving perfumery interesting and I was very engaged in the mystery surrounding the proposed ability to reanimate the dead with the final breath of a loved one.  But ultimately it was Rene's storyline that kept me riveted.  Jac's modern storyline wasn't nearly as interesting and I felt like I was reading her portion of the book just to get back to Rene's story.  

There were a few things, namely the predictability of the modern-day storyline as well as the romance, that didn't endear me to the book.  The love story involving Rene seemed to sizzle with very little provocation and turned into undying love rather too quickly for my liking.  It also became a little predictable which lessened the enjoyment of the suspense aspect for me. 

Overall, this was a very descriptive, Gothic tale the gives the reader a glimpse into the world of Catherine de Medici's reign and focuses on feelings of revenge, hate, love, passion, the bonds of family and the ends to which people are willing to go for their loved ones.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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