PHBC – The Perfume by Caroline B Cooney

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#PointHorrorBookClub was created by author Juno Dawson in 2013. Juno announced in 2015 that she was no longer able to carry on so, with her blessing, I took over the reins.

So why not grab a copy and join the discussion with this months #PointHorrorBookClub

The Perfume by Caroline B Cooney

Are the Point Horror books we loved as a teenager still our favourites on a re-read? Have they not stood the test of time? After a hit of nostalgia? Or are you new to Point Horror and want to see what its all about?


Want to explore previous #PointHorrorBookClub posts? I’ve got you! Head to the main page here


Beware…….Spoilers Ahead


An enticing new perfume has a deadly bite
When fifteen-year-old Dove Daniel’s friends discover the new perfume called Venom, they become infatuated. They have Obsession and Poison; now they simply must have Venom. When they discover it’s available at Dry Ice, the coolest store in the local mall, they rush over after school. But to Dove, Venom seems inexplicably terrifying, as does the store that carries it. If she breathes in its potent scent, she is sure something terrible will happen. At first whiff, she senses something primitive and dark. Once she’s inhaled the scent, she begins to feel something . . . different . . . and her heart beats in double time. What has Venom’s bite awakened inside her?.

The Tagline

The sweet smell…of EVIL

Okay ….so…What’s It All About?

Once upon a time there were parents who told there daughter all about her vanishing twin who disappeared before she was born. One daughter would be Dove cooing with affection, the other would be Wing beating free and flying strong. And over in Sky Change Hills, where all the condominiums are the same, things are about to get very very very VERY wild!

Woah! That’s a lot of verys! I don’t trust that many!

*Coughs* moving on………enter Dove who really really really hates the Mall. The graveyard to end all graveyards. But with a new perfume advertised in the coolest shop in the Mall, Dry Ice, her friends, Connie and Luce, convince her to go.

Awesome! I bet there’s a cool glass lift…..they are so much fun!

Well yes….but that’s not the….lets move on shall we. Dove is drawn Dry Ice and the perfume like gravity and basically ends up buying a bottle after giving it a good old sniff in the shop.

Ohhhhhhhh I bet that smelt nice!

Well like ancient Egypt and pure evil! And then there were two voices – like a flute and a cello duet. The vanished twin Wing, is ready to unleash her evil on the town and Doves life…….

The Girl: Dove

Our little Dove Bar, Dove Daniel. Poor Dove….she was a bit of a worrier and was constantly scared. A gentle 16 year old, with a melodious voice, dark brown hair and eyes and who apparently dressed like her gentle name in soft cottons and soft colours. No black clothes for our Dove! No way. Black was death and night and traps in the dark! Dove certainly doesn’t want to check out my wardrobe then lol. She didn’t want to be grey old Dove Bar and blend in with the sky and soap.

Dove does not like things that match and doesn’t like onions, but all is well as she has her own bathroom and likes to check under her bed, where there are no floor length ruffles to be seen, every night for monsters…..and as we find out the monsters are certainly not under the bed but in The Perfume.

With a self proclaimed affection for friendships (she had known Connie since nursery), however she often says that she is not sure why she is friends with Connie and Luce who always seem to want to go to the Mall and Dove is really not fond of the Mall. Only plus side of the Mall for Dove is the glass lift and liking to pretend she’s rich! I feel Dove completely….love a bit of posh window shopping! One trip to the Mall under much protesting from Dove and things start to go a whole load of cray cray! *puts my book bag on top of my head just like Dove to stop the noise*

One sniff of that perfume and Wing was free! The whole description and imagery of Wing emerging and being inside Doves head and visa versa almost felt like you were in there with them! I loved the whole description of Dove being as distant as a camera or through backward binoculars whilst Wing was in control of her body. Stretching down from her skull to her spine. The person inside her needing more space. Being in the dark. Dove’s prison. The whole part with Wing emerging a terrible thickness coming from her lungs. Amazing!

Final thought on Dove…..It was lucky Dove had a sense of smell really wasn’t it!

The Girl: Wing

Wing, the parasite of Doves head. The vanished twin who loves black! No dull namby pamby pastel junk clothes for our Wing. With her fluted voice which trembles like feathers in the breeze and her favourite lines of “I am the perfume the perfume is me” and “I am Venom. I am poison” she was sure taken down easily by a sweet smelling floral bouquet wasn’t she?!

I actually quite liked Wing. Her evil smile, her high pitched voice, her love for wilds viperish dance, her dislike of brushing her teeth and her hate for Dove….take the N out of nice and you have ice just like Wing. Oh and she loves a good old Mall water fountain! Wing thought it was more fun to destroy a virtuous person than a bad one. She was so stroppy and dark! I loved her!

“You used to be so stodgy Dove! And now you’re halfway to an insane asylum”

She tried her best to use her evil too. Although she failed to push Timmy out of the gondola. And she failed to turn Hesta’s steering wheel. She also plotted something against Mr Phinney but I’m not sure what. And had insightful conversations with Egypt whilst in a fountain in the mall. That poor Mall got put through the ringer didn’t it! And so di her poor Mom and Dad! Wing really lays into her maternal and paternal body …making them cringe and flinch!

Someone give Wing a Cherry Coke to calm her down or a bunch of floral smelling flowers *wink* Its simple, mimple, pimple, himple. Was she basically just a stroppy teen ?

I also loved all the v word alliteration associated with Wing, Venom, Villain, Vulture, Vertigo, Violence. Although Wing doesn’t trust anybody who uses too many verys in one sentence so that was basically all the adults in this book.

The Perfume: Venom

The toxic perfume gets its own heading for this one! Advertised once and only once, Venom attracted Dove like gravity. A scent as old as the insides of pyramids. A scent as dark and unforgiving as the death of kings. It wrapped itself around Doves heart primitive and dark. It went back before history. Before civilisation or time. Before sanity!

With its translucent glass, like an unpolished diamond, it was shaped like a snake with a crystal stopper. It made Dove think of Egypt, the pyramids and Cleopatra. But it smelt bad! Luce and Connie were not a fan…they said it was very very very unattractive. But Dove smells it, buys it and her heart starts making a double beat. I loved the posh bag the perfume was in…. heavy slick paper with the Dry Ice emblem and the silky cords with tassel handles…….I would feel like I was in Pretty Woman!

Shout out to Dry Ice the store where you could exclusively buy Venom which mysteriously disappears after 24hrs….did Point Horror invent the pop up shop?! Dry ice sounds like the best and worst shop mixed together. It sold the trendiest clothes, funky costume jewellery had the craziest colours and the sickest t shirt slogans (basically Truffle Shuffle lol). You entered Dry Ice through a misty mist where bins of carbon dioxide (I accidently wrote monoxide originally lol) wafted clouds of vapour into the air… you basically shopped in fog. When left your hair sparkled like morning dew and your skin felt all damp and mouldy. Dove says she has a shiver of fear upon entering…….I say hell yeah take me there!

The Love Interest

Awwwwww Timmy O Hay…..what a solid ordinary name. He thinks Dove is cute but gets a little more than he bargained for with Wing didn’t he? With his passion for ruffling everyone’s hair and being a bit of a joker he knows how to work a hot air balloon (not a euphemism lol). His cute 5am romantic date (just me?!) started with his date throwing his coffee out of the window which seemed like a unconscious foreshadowing of what almost happened in that hot air balloon! Gosh I was hoping for a bit of murder! I also loved how he totally did not notice or comment on Dove/Wing not having brushed her teeth before their date.

As Point Horror love interests go he was a little meh really wasn’t he….I mean that sneaker self tying lace joke was kinda lame! *grabs a hot air balloon and finishes the job*

I loved how he describes Doves/ Wings voice like an electronic synthesizer. Maybe he should have thought there was something wrong…but he still fancied a piece didn’t he!

The Gang

Connie, a girl both tangled and smooth. Described as vein and self centred and would say “I” half a dozen times in every speech and always full of herself. With her long dark hair which was neither straight nor curly, and was ruffled and tangled, she could not follow a convo and was always so bored and fully of self pity for Dove. She loved the radio as much as she loves perfume though (with the exception of Venom) and she loves a good nickname! She wasn’t the greatest best friend ever….lets say average.

Luce (Lucinda) energetic and virtuous says her name is the crummiest name her parents ever could have picked, but compared to her parents other choices I think I would stick with Lucinda (Irmengarde or Hulda?!). Luce loved black clothes and owned her own pea green car with hard seats. Her love for driving held no bounds. She shifts those gears like dynamite! And shout out to her super strong book bag! I loved Luce! She sounds like my kind of person! I especially loved how she reached out to Dove after her psychiatric hospital visit and at the end of the book too. She’s a gem. She also gave Dove the loveliest gift on earth….being there. I thought this was such a touching line.

Then we have Hesta….. I feel we were cheated out of more Hesta. She was the classic bitchy character that was so underused and who delighted in telling you that you looked a little heavy lately or a bit run down or you had done poorly in an exam. She wouldn’t dare to bring lunch to school as it is far too common for Hesta. She also likes grabbing peoples hair to get their attention and pissing them off specifically Wing( “You touched me you’ll be sorry!) and snooping in peoples bags. I loved how Wing used her as a little play thing through befriending her and ditching Doves friends. And that moment when she pissed Wing off for the hundredth time saying “Wing schming … stupid name” I could feel how angry Wing got in the next few sentences … it was so powerful and of course I was like kill kill kill…but yet here we are!

Laurence was proof that looks were not everything and was tiresome to be around. Apparently girls were always crushing on him and he knows all about grinding teeth. Was it sad that we didn’t see much more of him? He was basically just Timmy’s best bud in the back ground.

I have to shout out the maternal and the paternal body. Dove/Wings Mom and Dad. The maternal body, Jan, was 36 years old slim and fit who still looked like a teenager and owned a car telephone AND a car fax machine and was an accountant for a tax firm. She did not like cooking, but loved clothes. The paternal body, Rob, who’s body had thickened over the years and who is constantly on a diet can smash out five desserts in one go…..same Rob, same! I think he may be my spirit animal. He worked for a phone company and hated his job I also loved how he was learning different languages from cassette tapes. The best moment for me was when Dove comes just as Wing is starting to break through and her Mom basically thinks she is being a stroppy teenager and carried on her telephone call making an excuse that the disruption was Call Waiting. This makes Dove / Wing storm upstairs kicking the doors and the walls…… *gives that knowing teenager in the house stare* I think later on Dad says what happened to our sweet dear daughter? where does the hostility come from….TEENS! lol

And I simply can’t move on without mentioning the very very very awesomeness of Mr Phinney…..setting all the awesome school projects and getting all excited about them! Apparently he has the nickname fat old fogey Phinney and he just reminded me of an old teacher from my school. Plus bonus points for him pushing Wing over the edge my rejecting her project idea lol

Fashion Faux Pas

I actually think the fashion in The Perfume was quite on point! To Dove’s pale grey with folded white collars to someone’s denim shirt with gleaming silver buttons and hot pink t shirt! Then there was Wings black shirt with a pattern of silver threads clung in at the wrist and bagged at the elbows….I would so wear this!

I think this was cool 90’s fashion rather than faux pas!

Dialogue Disasters

As always here are some lines that made me lol……or in Cooneys case was just plain genius!

“Black made Doves head shrink as if her heart were losing weight and would become fragile and no longer pump blood”

GENIUS!

“Dove is a pathetic excuse for a name”

But it’s so peaceful….

“Luces car was a tiny little thing as flimsy as a can of peas”

The imagery!

“To Dove, parking lots were like cemeteries”

Genius! I liked this image a lot!

“Moss will grow on your teeth”

Yuk! Brush your teeth peeps!

“It’s bad luck to breathe when you going past dead people”

Genius!

“You’ll have to go to the dentist and be drilled”

*Cough Cough*

“That is not the perfume for a cooing Dove”

But ideal for an evil Wing!

“And yet she felt strangely occupied, like a couch with a person sitting there”

Geni……oh wait!

“Its my bush! The woman said defensively”

Very protective!

“On the inside, Dove was as weak as a single piece of confetti”

Genius!

“She was a Dove. She nested in her own room”

With her own bathroom don’t you know!

“Dove was suspicious. Truly excited people did not need a row of verys to prove it”

Well that’s very very very suspicious indeed!

“Dove has anyone ever told you that you are getting very weird these days”

LOL

Body Count

0! Bloody 0!

I mean there was plenty of opportunity for Wing to go all kill kill kill but no! 0 dead people persons!

0!

I’m not over it!

Is it scary?

I would say mildly. The whole wrestling matches of the mind and the thought of someone taking over your body and mind is really vivid and really gets into your head. This is purely down to the imagery and descriptions that Cooney conjures up. You really feel the emotions and the torment that wing is going through.

Other than that I would not say scary as such in a horror sense…..but pshycological.

Did the best friend do it?

Not that kind of Point Horror I’m afraid ….however technically Connie does force Dove to go to the Mall even though Dove refuses so many times and technically drags her into Dry Ice…..so swings and roundabouts and all that jazz!

Some Mild Peril?

I would definitely say an evil perfume releasing your evil misunderstood twin as mild peril. Balloon rides where you are almost pushed over the edge (why didn’t you do it Wing!) and car rides where you need to grip that steering will tightly. Love me some mild peril!

Is it any good?

I actually really enjoyed this one. The premise and the feel of confusion really got me. I also quite enjoyed The Egyptian themes and the Druid descriptions gave it all a really ancient feel. What I love about Cooney is that she leaves a lot up to your imagination like the how and the why etc. Also lots of bird imagery. I loved the Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde chat too.

I also thought the talk of schizophrenia was talked about in a way that made me feel a little uncomfortable as in they will lock you up and dope you up on medication, but I feel this was a sign of the time maybe and we understand things like this more nowadays so would be tackled a little better? Not sure on others peoples thoughts on this?

I do think this whole book had undertones of a teenager about to turn 16 suddenly growing up and trying to cling onto that childhood past…..whoa that’s very deep for a point horror but that is why Cooney is the queen!

Final Thought

Would you have brought Venom?

Over to you!

  • What would the advert say for Venom?
  • Team Dove or Team Wing
  • Would you have you have pushed Timmy out of that balloon?
  • Connie or Luce as your best friend?

Cover Wars

I actually couldn’t find that many different The Perfume covers….I love the classic UK cover but that American Point cover is well creepy!

Live Event

Want more The Perfume? Check out these fab Podcasts!

Or looking to buy Point Horror check out Welcome To Point Horror – I highly recommend!


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Want to explore previous #PointHorrorBookClub posts? I’ve got you! Head to the main page here

Thanks for joining in…..

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talesofyesterday@live.co.uk'
I am often known to be a bit clumsy and a little loopy! Book loving (obsessed), theatre loving, slasher film loving csi geek!
Winner of UKYABA Champion Newcomer 2015 and nominated for Champion of Social Media 2016 and Blogger Of The Year 2016!

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2 Responses

  1. kevindio.fr@gmail.com' Kevin

    May 29, 2021 5:18 am

    I had so much fun reading this one, it was probably one of the weirdest books I ever read though. But that’s what made it fun!
    That quote:
    “And yet she felt strangely occupied, like a couch with a person sitting there”
    Still lives freely in my mind hahaha.
    And yes, sad about the body count also; I expected a bit more, at least in the air balloon, she could have sent him flying in the air! But ok!
    The advert for Venom…. “Reveal your true self with Venom”, maybe?
    I would say I’m more Team Wing, she was a good kind of villain! And not that harmful in the end so why not! Got me way more interested than Dove!
    HA! YES! I WOULD HAVE DEFINITELY PUSHED TIMMY OUT OF THE BALLON! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! I mean, if you claim to be evil… do it all the way!
    And between Connie and Luce, I would have chosen… none of them maybe? I would have probably become friend with the teacher though!
    Thanks for this month!!

    Reply

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