Books to the ceiling, books to the sky, my pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I'll have a long beard by the time I read them!
I just loved this book. I've liked all of Isobelle's books, but this one was different. It's not a big epic fantasy like Obernewtyn or the Legendsong of the Unykorn, but still just as interesting, I think. Much simpler plot, but that comes with the territory. I love the idea of each person having their own unique scent which tells you something about what that person is truly like, and that their emotions are also represented by various scents, but which occur differently in different people. I also love the fact that Alyzon discovers that her cat also communicates in this same way, and that if she concentrates, she and her cat can have conversations. She can tell when he wants to be scratched, fed, let out, or where he's been exploring simply by the scents he releases as a result of her thinking what she wants to know. The characterisations of, in particular, Alyzon's father, her friend Gilly, and Patrick, the boy Alyzon develops a crush on, are all wonderful as well.
Two things really stuck out in my mind though, that led me to leaving off that extra 1 point. One was the sudden change in story, from Alyzon exploring her new abilities, to her discovering that certain people with a terrible rotting smell are actually infected with a disease. She discovers that her family is caught in a conspiracy to 'infect' people with particularly good essences so that they catch this rotting soul disease. The transition felt really felt sudden and clumsy to me, as I had really enjoyed Alyzon exploring her new gift. The second issue I had was how easy it was for Alyzon's abilities to leave her. As soon as she tried to put some effort into using them, they were practically forced out of her body and she had to go back to being as she was originally. It was rather disappointing. We also didn't get a satisfying conclusion to the events that occurred in the final half of the book - we have no idea as to why this rotting infection was being spread among the population or who was behind it. It will be rather hard to ferret out the people who have this disease now, and how will she go about understanding her poor cat? Still, it was an enjoyable young adult novel.