Scholastic. Nov. 2019. 368p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338335446.
Gr 7 Up–Rakel, a poor but talented villager with a gift for distilling scents and fragrances, yearns to cure her father of “the rot” as well as to be chosen as a perfumer. Ash serves as the First Prince’s Shield, friend, and confidant. When Rakel’s attempt to pass the test for a place in the class of future perfumers results in failure, her arrest, and a meeting with the most powerful scent keeper in the kingdom, she becomes embroiled in a plot to kill the First Prince Nisai and is accused of poisoning him. Ash tries to protect her and thus also is accused of participating in the plot to poison his friend. The two embark on a seemingly fruitless journey through the provinces of the kingdom to find the Library of the Lost and a legendary secret formula that could save Nisai, encountering danger after danger in their quest to locate each ingredient. This first book in a series ties up this episode of the overall plot nicely. The world-building is rather slow but the main characters have strong development and synergy that enhances the plot as they must learn to trust each other in their quest. The gradual reveal of secrets keeps the action tense.
VERDICT The combination of fantasy, adventure, and a bit of romance makes this an appealing read.

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