Publisher: Atria Books
Published: April 8, 14
Source: From Netgalley and the publisher for review
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.My thoughts:
I picked this one up since I have been curious about this series and understand that these can be read as standalones. That was correct. The theme or reincarnation is what holds the collection together and the stories are separate.
In this book we follow alternating POVs of René, Catherine de Medici's perfumer, and Jac the daughter and sister of 2 great perfumers and one in her own right (she does not do it professionally). With René's story we follow what happened to him and what he did right before and during his time in the service of Catherine. We follow his long time obsession with collecting dying breaths in hopes of reanimating that soul into a newborn babe. He finds a formula where the ingredients are hard to find. He thinks he may have stumbled on the elixir to immortal life.
We also follow Jac. Her brother had been poisoned and she is not sure if she is the next target. She starts the arduous task of collecting her brother's things and she stumbles on his last project. The project determined to bring back René's greatest work of reanimating dying breaths. She becomes intrigued and then obsessed when she learns that her brother had his last breath collected. Through twists and turns that also ends up as a murder mystery, she finds the most shocking truth of it all and how everything connects. And that truth is... Yea, right... not going to reveal that. ;)
I give this book 4 stars. I recommend it to those that enjoy a good twisty mystery and a large amount of historical fiction. I really enjoyed the author's writing and I do intend to pick up the other 5 because now I'm very curious. Even with the shifting POVs, it is very readable.