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Scent of Magic by Andre Norton - a review

After a plague leaves Willadene an orphan, she is taken in as a scullery maid in the city of Kronengrad. Under the spiteful watch of Jacoba, she faces a dismal future. Because the girl has the rare ability to smell the magical odors around her, she is saved by the local herbmistress and made an apprentice. The same plague has brought Uttobric to sit uncomfortably in the Ducal chair of Kronengrad. There are many, including the widow of the last duke, who consider his claim weak. When he begins to make plans to betroth his daughter Mahart to a prince, the opposition makes itself known and an ancient evil is awakened. When Mahart is kidnapped, Willadene’s rare talent may be the only way to find her.

The first half of this book was a little confusing to follow, in part because of her writing style. Ms Norton often uses dashes—much like this—several times on a page. I found myself rereading sentences several times before I could understand what was meant. There are also vague references made to outlaws and occurrences happening outside the city that confused rather than enhanced the plot. I suppose the reason for including these at all was to give a reason for the prince to visit Kronengrad, since it is he who vanquishes the outlaws. The second half of the book is much more enjoyable. There is much more action and the writing is tighter, moving the plot along quicker. The vivid descriptions the bogged down the beginning of the book are more pertinent in this half of the book.

My Recommendation
Scent of Magic is a so-so read. If you can get through the beginning, the end is more readable. Ms Norton’s powerful descriptions are what makes this book enjoyable despite the problems. This may be a good one to check out of the library, rather than to purchase.

Scent of Magic by Andre Norton
Published by Eos
384 pages

Scent of Magic is available at Amazon.com

I borrowed Scent of Magic from the library

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