I received this book for free from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Collector of Dying Breaths
Author M.J. Rose
Series: Reincarnationist #6
Publication Date April 8, 2014
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.
When a story is told in two parts let alone two centuries I am usually drawn more towards one. This was not the case here. I was just as invested in Jac’s story as I was Rene’s. Throughout the novel’s intertwining stories I was torn who I wanted to hear more from. Rene and Catherine played off the royal intrigue and backstabbing well and kept my interest level up. From the start of the book it was obvious that Rene had nerve, but he played his hand well and Catherine de Medici’s devoted faith in him reminded me a bit of the Tsarina Alexandra and Rasputin. From an outsider looking in, it all appeared off kilter and as odd as some of the ingredients in the perfumes Rene created.
At the start of Jac’s story with Robbie’s death, Jac’s darkness was my darkness and she brought me in. For not having actually lived in the 1500s Melinoe and Serge sure crept the hell out of me. They were dark and ominous; this along with the castle backdrop created the perfect Gothic palate.
I just watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, at the end Indiana Jones’ colleague Elsa Schneider gets greedy and tries to take the Holy Grail for herself. She pays with her life and Indy almost falls to the same fate if his father hadn’t told Junior to let go. That is how I felt about the fantastic plot of The Collector of Dying Breaths, a temple of suspense, a seemingly unachievable goal that many have aspired to. This novel was wow, just wow, M.J. Rose’s book was spellbinding and is a colossal work of fiction which I would highly recommend.