Author Feature

The Scent of a Magician: Decoding the Scents in THE SEA OF THE DEAD by Amy Kuivalainen

Amy Kuivalainen’s new novel The Sea of the Dead is here! Amy shares her fascination with scents and how she created them for the Magicians.

The battle for Venice might be over, but the war is just beginning… Penelope’s and Alexis’s adventure continues in this exciting second installment of The Magicians of Venice series.

Penelope has accepted her role as the new Archivist for the magicians, but with war brewing on the horizon and the tide of magic on the rise, she’s going to have to learn her way around this new and dangerous world if she has any hope of outsmarting their enemies. 

When Penelope’s friend and fellow archaeologist uncovers a scroll containing a magical secret lost in the Dead Sea for two thousand years, Penelope and Alexis must travel to Israel to find them before Abaddon and Kreios get there first.

To defeat Thevetat and his followers, they’ll need to find a weapon capable of ending him for good. As her old life collides with her new, Penelope will soon discover the price of keeping the magicians’ secrets safe.

I have always been fascinated by the power of scent and it’s link to memory and mood. For example, as soon as I smell eucalyptus and pine, I think of my father. When I was writing Magicians, I wanted to use scent to signal to Penelope, a non-magical adept, that magic was happening. I also wanted to find a way to use scent to give hints about the magician’s past or personality. So what are the scents that decode the magicians?

Alexis probably has the most scent associations tied to me personally. I have always loved the spicy warm smells of sandalwood and cinnamon, and have associated it in my mind to magic. The combination of sweet and spicy is a nod to Alexis’s duel personalities as magician and warrior. The firecracker is a sharp snap that’s a reminder that he’s not tame or safe, even when he seems it.

Penelope’s magic, when it starts to manifest, smells of jasmine flowers, for her sweetness and mystery. There is also the scent of sea salt tied in with it, a nod to her deep connection to the ocean and subtle nod to the magic that she was given and wields.

Zo’s scent is rosemary, coffee, and leather. Rosemary and coffee is the smell of the kitchen, the heart of the home, and Zo is the heart of the magician family. He’s the domestic goddess who wants to care and nurture. The leather smell is because the Atlanteans were known for their horses, and Zo is an excellent warrior on horseback.

Aelia was a high priestess of Poseidon on Atlantis, so the scent of her magic is tied up with the temple. Frankincense was used in many traditional incense recipes, and roses symbolize not only her passionate, romantic nature but also a subtle reminder that like roses, she has thorns too.

Phaidros comes from a family of farmers, so his scent of olive groves and apricots is a reminder of that. He loves a party, and the wine notes in his magic is a nod to that, as well as to the Dionysian myths he inspired by being a wild magician in Greece in the early days after the fall of Atlantis.

Lyca was raised as mercenaries’ daughter, before she was sold to a weaponsmith, and her magic holds the smell of steel and iron. There is the smell of hot desert sand, as she spent most of her time in Egypt with Nereus.

“…lives up to its predecessor. Kuivalainan is working in a new space in urban fantasy, one that includes sweet romance, mystery, mythology, and alternative history elements, which only expands the series’ appeal.” 


Galenos has always been Nereus’s librarian and go-to guy. His scent is that of academia, of parchment and papyri. There is also petrichor, the smell of the rain, as a nod to his cooling presence that tempers the fiery Lyca (his lover) and the other magicians’ tempers.

Nereus, the matriarch of the Citadel of Magicians and leader of the magicians, has a scent of ice and lemongrass. Those that know her know that while she has always been their mother figure, she can be as cold as ice in her resolve and sharp as lemon with her tongue.

Scent and music are the two secrets to my writing success, as they both work to evoke a mood of the world that I want to create. When I was writing the Magicians of Venice series, I would have particularly rich and lovely sandalwood candles burning that would help pull me into the headspace that I needed in order to draft. It’s something that I will now forever associate with the series and Alexis, and be drawn back into the world that I loved living in for three years.

Q&A With Amy Kuivalainen:

Don’t miss this fun Q&A as we get up close and personal with the magicians of Atlantis, including Amy’s favorite to write, and more in this behind the scenes look at The Sea of the Dead.

About the Author:

Amy Kuivalainen is a Finnish-Australian writer who is obsessed with magical wardrobes, doors, auroras, and burial mounds that might offer her a way into another realm. Until that happens, she plans to write about monsters, magic, mythology and fairy tales because that’s the next best thing. She enjoys practicing yoga and spending her time hanging out with her German Shepherd, Duke in the beautiful city of Melbourne. 

Her upcoming Firebird Faerie Tale series combines Russian and Finnish mythology with legends, magic, the mysterious firebird and her love of reluctant heroes. Cry of the Firebird, book one in the series, is slated for release fall 2021 from BHC Press.

Learn more about Amy Kuivalainen, her books, and blog at her website.

Don’t miss the first book in the Magicians of Venice series!

Visit our website to learn more about The Sea of the Dead and other titles available from BHC Press.

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