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Makes you stop and smell the roses

By Bequail, author of The Scapegoats

Aug 31, 2016: For someone who barely has a sense of smell due to year-round allergies, The Smell Collector was a fun and intriguing experience.

The story follows Jim Bronson, a man who has trouble grasping social nuances and collects smells like one would take photographs. He goes around sniffing people and things so he can recreate those scents in his basement.

Already, the above line should be an indication to the type of person our protagonist is. He’s a strange fellow, more than a little obsessive, and as noted by a couple of the other characters in the story, downright creepy. Jim Bronson does have hidden depth beneath his unconventional pastime, however. His interesting worldview is enough to pull the reader in despite his eccentricities and sometimes off putting behaviour. I found him charming, endearing even, after the first few entries, and his voice is filled with humour and introspective gold.

On that note, the work is rather character-centric. Characters are complex enough for the length of the work, and the story makes use of their individual idiosyncrasies to play with themes such as loss and purpose. The plot is a little predictable but satisfying, and not without its surprises. The Smell Collector uses this to its advantage, the simple plot serving to better develop its rather limited cast without being muddled with unnecessary complication.

My only large complaint is the lack of consistency in the work. Events are told through different POVs, characters, and mediums, and not always in a linear fashion. Even Jim’s chapters switch occasionally from first-person to third-person. And while this did keep things interesting and make the work more cohesive as a whole, albeit confusing on the outset, it could be jarring when switching to some of the more unique perspectives/styles and at times made the narrated events seem trivial or even slightly cheesy.

It’s a short work, one that I binge read over the course of an hour and a half long train ride. And while it’s not like the action packed epics I’m used to reading, I still found it enjoyable and would definitely recommend it.

All in all, The Smell Collector is an easy, light, and quirky read, that can freshen up a long commute or make evenings smell a little sweeter.

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