Shadowscent: The Darkest Bloom by P. M. Freestone
In the empire of Aramtesh, scent has power.
When disaster strikes and the crown prince lies poisoned, long suppressed rivalries threaten to blow the empire apart. It’s up to a poor village girl with a talent for fragrances and the prince’s loyal bodyguard to find an antidote.
To succeed, the pair must uncover secrets – cryptic, ancient tales as well as buried truths from their own pasts – in an adventure that will ignite your senses.
When I first heard of this book, I longed to read it and requested a review copy. Lo and behold this proof copy was provided to me in exchange for a review. And it came with the added bonus of a vial of perfume which was a delightful boon that I hadn’t expected (but that made me feel extremely happy, and the perfume is lovely indeed).
I have delayed this review to have it as close to the publishing date as I could and here it is! The finished copy is even lovelier but I am still waiting for that one to arrive. Enough about me, now to the book.
Shadowscent tells us the story of Rakel, who has honed her scent and her perfume making skills so she has a chance at becoming a perfumer to the rich (and she wants this because she loves scent and to give her father a longer chance of survival, a better life as short or long as it may be). From the beginning I enjoyed Rakel’s chapters enormously and just all of her view of the world was something I wanted to read a bit more every time. I was rooting for her at the perfumer trial, and just kept rooting for her throughout the story.
Plus, Rakel is good with horses, and she has a lot of street smarts, but not in an aggressive way but rather an “I learnt this and I know it and I am going to use it, even if I am not rich and can’t compete on fair grounds, but let’s give it a go, I won’t give up”.
We also get Ash chapters, and his point of view. He is a Shield, the bodyguard, defender, “loyal puppy” of the Prince that is chosen to become the next leader. (The politics here were a bit confusing, as there are a lot of concubines/wives that have children and they form the Council and it didn’t really spark my interest except that it was made up of females mostly). I have to admit I didn’t enjoy Ash’s chapters as much and read them as quick as possible. I wasn’t keen on the whole “I am so special but have to hide it and won’t hint but actually I will”. It was a bit overdone for my liking and considering the big “reveal” in the end, I think it could’ve been done better (don’t really want to spoil it, as it was interesting but even though it was a big reveal I was just like “yeah whatever, he’s special, move on”). It makes me sad to have to say this, because I enjoyed Rakel so much.
I liked the whole mystery, loved the concept of the Library, and enjoyed Rakel’s spunk and how she’s trying so hard but life just doesn’t seem to love her that much, or rather, not the way she thinks things should be. And I am quite curious for the next book.
More scentlore please, as it was quite interesting. And more Rakel, a lot more. There was a particular scene when they return to save the Prince and she talks to Barden and it was like “yes, I need to quote that because it is a great thing, so good” (it’s a bit spoilery, so I am holding on it, sorry!).
All in all, I think there was a lot more work in developing Rakel than Ash and it shows in the way it is written. But it is still an enjoyable read, the lore is interesting and I do wish for more of it.
Preordering this lovely book, or going to your nearest book shop or library and getting it to have a read (preferably get a few candles, or some incense, or put something in the oven because this will make you want to be sniffing around).