One of the many interests Michelyn Camen and I share is the genre of fiction called urban fantasy. When we needed to take a break from talking about CaFleureBon things we would spend some time sharing our favorites. One series she made me aware of is written by author Faith Hunter featuring Jane Yellowrock. Jane is a Cherokee vampire hunter who hides the secret that she is a skin walker. That is a supernatural who can shift into any creature. What I enjoy about Ms. Hunter’s mythos is for Jane to turn she requires the bones of the creature she will turn into. By aligning her powers with the DNA within, she shifts. Her Cherokee ancestors called finding the DNA “the inner snake”. Throughout the series Jane shifts into many animals all by finding that coiled strand of genetic material.
Ms. Camen commissioned four perfumes to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CaFleureBon. Of all the ones I read about there was one which interested me most, 4160 Tuesdays Dark Queen. Because it was based on Ms. Camen asking perfumer Sarah McCartney to use Jane Yellowrock as the titular dark queen which she becomes later in the series. In the CaFleureBon post announcing the perfume Ms. McCartney writes about how making a perfume focused on animalics was different for her. This is where creative direction for an independent perfumer can be so valuable. Ms. Camen knew what she wanted in a skin walker animalic. By nudging Ms. McCartney into a different style of perfume composition than she is used to, she had to find her own “inner snake”. Dark Queen allows for her to shift into a different style while staying wholly true to who she has always been as a perfumer.
The setting for most of the novels is New Orleans which meant this was a perfume which had to capture humid bayou nights. That is when the vampires, werewolves, witches, and skin walkers play their games. As you walk the Vieux Carre you sense the creatures around you. Your own change begins as you search for the “inner snake” of the beast within. To wear Dark Queen is to be right there.
Ms. McCartney first sets the New Orleans milieu. If you have ever spent time in the city there is a weight to the air. It amplifies the indigenous scents. Ms. McCartney evokes that as the smell of a fruity cocktail in the hand of a tourist is contrasted by the smell of the old stone of the street. Incense swirls from someplace, or someone, unseen. There is something out there you sense it. Inside you react, the beast within warns of danger. A sense of fur begins to slide through your skin. Ms. McCartney forms a brilliant accord of styrax, leather, a pinch of oud, and musks to signal this. This is where Dark Queen grabs me every time I wear it. Ms. Camen and Ms. McCartney bring the literary source into olfactory life. It’s alive! The sense of transformation into something which growls is complete. The remainder of Dark Queen stalks through an ambery woody resinous base accord. Another predator prowls the bayou.
4160 Tuesdays Dark Queen has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
In the announcement of Dark Queen Ms. McCartney writes, “it’s a fragrance that made me dig down into areas that I didn’t want to explore. I developed it reluctantly, but I’m so glad I did.” This only happens through the creative direction of Ms. Camen. I am hopeful that now that Ms. McCartney has discovered her “inner snake” for animalic styles of perfume she might choose to shift again in the future. Dark Queen is everything I could have desired from a perfume based on one of my favorite urban fantasy heroines.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.