Halloween is almost here, so it’s time for me to recommend another scary read to get you in the Halloween spirit! This time I’ve chosen something a bit stranger for you that’s more disturbing than it is spooky, and I guarantee you won’t have read anything like it before. My next Halloween pick is the translation of Patrick Süskind’s Das Parfum, Perfume.
Perfume‘s tagline sums it up: it’s the story of a murderer. Grenouille is born in France in the 18th century with an abnormally precise sense of smell, despite emitting no odour of his own. An unwanted orphan who unnerves everyone around him, he becomes enamoured with the scent of a girl one night, kills her to better appreciate it, and decides he won’t stop there. He wants to learn the secrets of perfumery so he can find a way to bottle the perfect scent, one exactly like that of the girl he killed, and nothing will get in his way.
A disclaimer: if you’re not prepared to read possibly the weirdest book you’ll ever read in your life, then Perfume is not for you. There are some truly bizarre scenes towards the end of the novel – it’s a sort of black comedy in places – and there are other truly gruesome scenes written almost clinically. That said, it’s an incredible book.
The narrative is well-written and entertaining, although you will have to get used to seeing the word “olfactory” every few pages. Grenouille is an unlikeable but compelling main character who makes for interesting reading. There’s also a comedically tragic aura to most of the side characters in the book, many of whom are very abruptly and definitively written out once they’ve served their purpose. If you’re a fan of macabre books that ridicule humanity, this is definitely the book for you.
Have you read Perfume? What did you think of it? Are there any other spooky reads you would recommend? Let me know in the comments, follow me on Instagram @afewmorebooks for more bookish content, and thanks for reading!