M.J. Rose's "The Collector of Dying Breaths" combines fascinating history, torrid romance and a compelling mystery into a marvelous package that will entice fans of Anne Rice and Diana Gabaldon.
In 1573, an apprentice to a perfumer grants the dying wish of his teacher and poisons him to speed his passing so he won't suffer a slow and lingering death. Rene le Florentine is thrown into prison, and while languishing in his own filth and despair, he is rescued by Catherine de Medici, who asks him to become her perfumer. He guarantees that he will grant her every request.
"The Collector of Dying Breaths"By M.J. Rose
Atria, 384 pages, $25, mjrose.com/content/
In present day, Jac L'Etoile suffers from the devastating loss of her brother. It was his dying request that she take over his perfume business. She begins to accept the possibility when she learns he had been spending a good deal of time with the owners of a mansion hidden away in Barbizon, France, the same location where, centuries earlier, Rene had created his perfume.
Jac soon realizes that her brother was involved in trying to re-create Rene's experiments in an attempt to reanimate life using a combination of certain scents and an individual's dying breath. Jac has the last breath her brother took stored in a bottle. Can she finish the task and succeed where others have not?
Rose has taken an interesting premise and uses history to tell her tale. "The Collector of Dying Breaths" is an original reading experience.