Author: Patrick Süskind
Perfume follows the life of fictional serial killer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in 18th century France. From the minute he’s born, the people who come into contact with Grenouille recoil from him without truly knowing why. As Grenouille ages, we see him develop from an emotionless child to a full grown adult who develops a sick obsession.
Throughout the entire novel the reader is in Grenouille’s head. It’s this and the extreme lack of humanity we experience through Grenouille that makes this book so creepy. The narrator likens Grenouille to a tick, a person with cold detachment from anything remotely resembling human emotion and with a self-serving drive that is the only thing spurring him onward through life.
Grenouille lacks a key component that signals humanness, a scent. His lack of a scent immediately disturbs people, even if most of them don’t understand why they have such a strong aversion to him. Because of this, Grenouille gets passed around until he’s an adult. Yet, despite seeing how sadly his childhood unfolds, Grenouille evokes no sympathy because he has no emotional reaction to anything that happens to him. He just accepts whatever is thrown his way and quietly watches the world while he bides his time. When Grenouille finally decides what he wants to pursue, he does so in a methodical and ruthless style that is chilling in how easily he seems to accomplish it.
If you’re looking for a quietly creepy book to read for Halloween this year, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.