Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths: A Novel of Suspense (Reincarnationist Book 6), M.J. Rose

The Collector of Dying Breaths Cover


Summary borrowed from

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 also 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, René 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—trying to recover from personal heartache by throw­ing herself into her work—learns of the sixteenth-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 breaths 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 . . . for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means.”


Do you believe in reincarnation? Several of the world’s lesser religions preach a version of reincarnation happens to us all after death, some say our soul goes to a resting place to recuperate and ready for our next life, this is called in their religion the Summerland, others say our soul goes to Heaven where God chooses who is reborn and who is left to relish life in paradise.  Personally, I think we all go to rest and recuperate in the Summerland and ready ourselves for our next life to finish the lessons we failed to learn in previous lives.  So what if there was a way for an alchemist or a perfumer to create an elixir that would bring a person’s soul from this unknown place back to life in the body of another?  Sounds sort of like something out of science fiction novel does it not?  According to the author this was reality for a Medieval Queen and her perfumer, Rene le Florentin and Catherine de Medici that carried on through history until the elixir’s formula and Rene’s notes were found by a woman in present day France.

The Collector of Dying Breaths is more than a tale of two souls bound together through time – it is a story of intrigue, politics and the lengths one goes to for the ones they care about.  It all starts with an apprentice perfumer longing for his mentor and the tale comes to an end with a sister mourning her brother. Or does it?  This novel leaves the reader wondering what is going to come of this tale, and how the two stories are intertwined together.  Having not read the previous five (5) books in the series I was left with a lot of questions that probably are answered in the books prior to this one.  However, I could also relate to Jac L’Etoile because I believe in reincarnation and I believe that with deep meditation one can access those past lives, however, thankfully they do not come to me as visionous day-dreams like they do Jac – therefore, I am able to keep the two elements of my life separate.  I felt for her as she lived through some of Rene’s past life right along with him.

Overall, the novel was an interesting concept and a genre I’d probably seek out again, however, I did find a few elements distracting in this novel, first the back and forth between the past and present was a tad distracting, probably would have preferred to have the way the visions and story of Rene told handled slightly differently so that it did not feel quite as choppy.  And, second the story took quite a bit to get moving, Jac felt a little like a lost child vs. an adult for a good portion of the book, it was not until Griffin came back into the picture did she truly come into her own, I kind of wish he’d come in sooner as it felt like I just wanted to reach through my kindle and smack some sense into her.

Three out of five Stars for Collector of Dying Breaths.

**I received a copy of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

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About the Author

M.J. Rose


New York Times Bestseller, M.J. Rose grew up in New York City mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed. She believes mystery and magic are all around us but we are too often too busy to notice… books that exaggerate mystery and magic draw attention to it and remind us to look for it and revel in it.

Please visit her blog, Museum of Mysteries at

Her photo was taken by Judith Pushett utilizing an old relic: a turn-of-the-century 11 x 14 inch wood camera.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

Her most recent novel THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS (Atria/S&S) was chosen as an Indie Next Pick and her next novel, THE WITCH OF PAINTED SORROWS will be released March 2015.

Rose’s work has appeared in many magazines including Oprah Magazine and she has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, WSJ, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors –

The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Reincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and currently serves, with Lee Child, as the organization’s co-president.

Connect with M.J. Rose via the Following

Her Blog: Museum of Mysteries

Facebook: Author, M.J. Rose

Twitter: M.J. Rose

Pinterest: M.J. Rose

Goodreads: M.J. Rose


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