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The Darkest Bloom

(Shadowscent #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,525 ratings  ·  376 reviews
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 t
Published February 7th 2019 by Scholastic
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  1,525 ratings  ·  376 reviews

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Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I first read the blurb for this book, I immediately wanted to read it. A fantasy story based on scent? How unique that is. I just fell in love with the sound of the story. But what it ended up being wasn't to my taste.

It's not that it was bad. I found it too mediocre. I liked the plot well enough, but since I didn't form an attachment to the characters, I didn't connect to the story as well as I would've liked.
I found the world a bit too confusing. The magic system was barely there and I di
Samantha Shannon
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: irish-and-ukya
A sweeping and sensuous debut. Anyone who knows the genre will recognise the base notes of The Darkest Bloom – the journey to collect ingredients, the deciphering of ancient riddles – but it’s also not quite like anything I’ve read before. P.M. Freestone has achieved a great feat of imagination in Aramtesh, an empire where smell is queen of the five senses and scent is braided in to every aspect of life, from religion to language to trade.

Like incense, the plot burns slowly, but you wouldn’t wa
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good. Really good. A good fantasy adventure and great start to a series (with a cliffhanger ending ugh).

Check out my full review (and giveaway!) here:
Well damn, this really surprised me.

The Darkest Bloom started off kind of dull and unimpressive, but it definitely picked up. As the book continued I grew to love the characters and their personalities so much more, and I was a real investor in this slow romance. The storyline was not especially unique or different but it was still fun to read, and there were some very interesting sayings about smell that were based on real sayings but slightly changed.
Speaking of smell, this book was quite fa
Kelly (Diva Booknerd)
Rakel Ana is an aspiring perfumer, currently selling her fragrances and scents on the black market to afford her fathers medication as the Affliction slowly claims his life. Since her mother passed away shortly after childbirth, Rakel and her father have struggled to make ends meet, moving out to the pastoral landscape outside of the city for a simpler life, growing up alongside childhood friend Barden who now is in the employ of the palace. Her father, once a decorated soldier for the Aphorain ...more
I got to read an early draft of this, and you all are in for a treat. Such an interesting world, and such a page turning plot-pace, and such stubborn, driven, delightful characters.

Also this book has the most effective "no, YOU?" betrayal I've ever read. I still don't want to believe it. I'm so glad I have the next book.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cool Fantasy read with an ending that makes you want the next book right away.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-box-club
I really enjoyed this - I loved the whole concept and the unique world building.

The main storyline doesn’t really kick off for a good hundred pages plus, but I love the build up too - it didn’t really feel like buildup, and I would happily have read a book just about Rakel making awesome scent oils haha.

But the quest for the cure and how it all comes together is really lovely, as is the relationship between Rakel and Ash - it felt slow enough to be reasonable.

And there’s so much intrigue for
ila ✨
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
4.5 or 5 stars (!). i definitely didn't expect to like it this much. full review to come :) ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2.5 stars

I'm pretty disappointed. I was expecting SO much more from this book.
Firstly, the worldbuilding at the beginning of the book was terrible. You were just thrown into a new world with lots of names and weird things going on without any explanation or set up. Sadly the first half of the book was pretty boring and confusing and I didn't enjoy it at all.
The second half was much better, there was really unique, interesting ideas, incredible creatures and magic and adventure! But still, I wasn
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
"𝑇𝘩𝑒𝑛 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑦 𝑏𝑦 𝑚𝑒. 𝑇𝘩𝑒𝑟𝑒'𝑠 𝑜𝑛𝑙𝑦 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑦 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡𝘩𝑖𝑠."
𝑆𝘩𝑒 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑝𝑠 𝘩𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑟𝑖𝑧𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑜𝑛𝑒 𝘩𝑎𝑛𝑑, 𝑏𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑠𝘩𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝘩𝑒𝑟 𝑘𝑛𝑖𝑓𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑡𝘩𝑒 𝑜𝑡𝘩𝑒𝑟. "𝑇𝘩𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔𝘩 ?"
𝐼 𝑛𝑜𝑑. "𝑇𝘩𝑟𝑜𝑢𝑔𝘩."


If there is one thing I like about fantasy, it's the fact that the authors can let themselves go completely in the world building. And it’s a successful bet for Shadowscent. I found the univers very well coordinated, the characters sufficiently developed for me to appreciate them, while keeping a balance that makes that for once, we don't
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a big introduction to this world and universe. The action was here but I think the depth of the story will be better in the next book.
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology, fantasy
Average rating: 3,5/5

characters: 3,5/5
I really enjoyed reading about Lil, Esarik and Zakkurus. Sidenote: I own a black cat named Lil that resembles the fictional horse so much! Unfortunately, these are side characters and rarely take up a significant role in the plot (view spoiler). Other than that, I did not feel attached to any of the characters and wasn't bothered if someone was in danger. The protagonists sometimes behave slightly dumb as well, but what else wo
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an amazing read. I loved the world, the characters and the plot. I admit to being frustrated with the lack of backstory we get for one of the characters but a reveal later on in the book more than made up for that. I felt that both main characters were very well developed and I liked their journey (the instalove wasn't actually too bad). The story was gripping and I cannot believe that ending. Talk about a cliffhanger! ...more
Alisha Tarran
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-releases
I was so intrigued by this when I heard about it, a poisoned prince, fragrances, a loyal bodyguard and a quest to find the antidote and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this adventure!

I really liked the focus on scents, not just in the story but in the writing. Scent subtly seeped in to the pages, and the writing style itself was rich. Each sentence was laced with detail that draws you in to the world and gets you acclimated to it in one chapter, although I did have a few confused moments as I was
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: My review is for the audiobook version of Shadowscent narrated by Steve West and Laura Aikman.

I've been getting a little bored of YA fantasy lately because it has all been starting to feel the same (mind you, I'll still eat it whole because I'm an escapist glutton). This breathed some new life in it for me. The story itself was nothing new, people going on a quest to get stuff for a goal, there's danger, adventure, the development of their relationship. But the world was totally new and co
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
The Darkest Blood (Shadowscent #1) by P. M. Freestone, 368 pages. Scholastic Press, November 2019. $19.

Language: PG-13 (29 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (some blood)



In a desperate gamble to help her Father survive the Rot, Rakel makes a bid to become an apprentice to a chief perfumer. Upon her loss, her indenture contract is purchased by the Scent Keeper of Aphoria, the perfumer of the kingdom who acts as a conduit to th
Chloe Trotter
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
A bit of a hard start with the world building but other than that I absolutely adored this story, the plot an magic system was lovely. I loved all the representation with a bisexual main character who experiences panic attacks. I fully recommend.
han ✨
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
my attention span has been terrible since lockdown started and this book finally got me back into reading. it’s cute, original, and with wonderful characterisation- exactly what I needed
Amanda (MetalPhantasmReads)
This wasn't for me, which is a major bummer. I love Steve West as a narrator but the first 3 hours of this book never felt like it was taking off. There was a ton of info dumping for the world, what different scents did and lots of dialogue. I don't think that the main plot had even started by this point. Plus both POV characters don't stand out from the many YA books I've read over the years. I very possibly could read the physical or ebook one day (maybe???) but this didn't impress me. ...more
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
DNF @ page 195

I just can't read anymore YA fantasies right now with the same structure, characters, tone, place and conflict.
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was incredible! I already knew the story because I was lucky enough to read an early version, so I treated myself to the audiobook instead. It is expertly narrated by Laura Aikman and Steve West. Their chemistry is undeniable, and they are both so talented at building suspense and tackling multiple characters. They did the story justice. It's such a clever book with a complex magic world. I am obsessed with it. ...more
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
I honestly have no clue what to rate The Darkest Bloom. I don't really know what to think of it! To be honest, the only reason I picked this book because it was narrated by Steve West. But it was surprisingly good! I loved the writing and the characters. The story itself was slightly confusing...I'm not sure how to put it, but it seems almost too unfamiliar? I don't know. So I guess I'll rate it four stars for the fabulous narrators and writing! ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Scholastic UK for sending me a free copy of this book to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

From the start we are thrust into a descriptive world where the scents are all described and I was able to imagine them pretty well, as if I was smelling them myself in real life.
We meet one of our main characters - Rakel.

She lives poorly in a village with her father who has a gruesome disease called 'The Rot' causing his skin to blister and then progress into ulcers, he is in cons
Kathi (bookworldwanderer)
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I read in a while!
Céline (lumierewhispers)
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french
3.75 🌟

Really enjoyed this read - the story’s compelling, and the plot slowly builds into a intense and fast paced race with crazy high stakes. The characters were a bit cliche but really easy to love, and I can’t wait to read the next instalment of this series to know what’s going to happen to them. I wouldn’t say this book was revolutionary or incredibly innovative, but for a debut it was surprisingly good! I really, really enjoyed it - perhaps because reading about smells and scents and perfu
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So these days I have my "work-read" book, my "chores" (audio)book, and my "bedside" book. Sorry Amber & Dusk I've been going straight to sleep lately which is why you're sitting there unfinished.

And normally that works, even books I love I can wait until the next day to open them up again as I commute in, or on my lunch break. Not so, Shadowscent. This book I read when I got home yesterday, for two hours instead of going to bed, thought about it all day at work when I wasn't reading it and then
Several of my friends are crazy about the fantasy books written by Jennifer A. Nielsen--The Traitor's Game and The Ascendance series and The Mark of a Thief, in particular--and while I enjoyed those books well enough, this one impressed me a great deal. In fact, I'd have to say that I found the Aramatesh world created here to be fascinating and highly originally. There are several scenes that are beautifully written and sensuous, allowing readers to sniff the perfumes described here and pay atte ...more
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was like meeting a hot guy on Tinder who looks amazing in his pictures, is really nice to chat to and says his a dog person. But when you decide to catch up for a coffee and you watch in horror as your date turns out to be an 80 year old crazy cat man. Such a letdown, but hey at least there was coffee right…?
No really, the blurb and the promise of the book sounded sooo amazing but about a quarter of the way through the book, you realise you have been catfished. Nothing like being catfi
Josh English
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a review of an ARC of the US edition of the book.

An excellent read. Rakel and Ash find themsleves on a quest to find a cure that takes them far and wide. Along the way they discover a friendship and common purpose, and eventually a greater purpose in the world.
The world has an intersting political stucture and an intriguing history and mythology. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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P. M. Freestone hails from Melbourne, Australia, and now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland with her partner, their Romanian rescue dog, and a collection of NASA-approved house plants. She is a Clarion Writers‘ Workshop (University of California) graduate and a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award winner, and holds degrees in archaeology, religious history and a PhD in the sociology of infectious dis ...more

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