I have a memory of a story or novel in which a character talked about "the delicious smell of magic", but I've never been able to find it again.

This would have been something I read no later than the eighties. Can anyone tell me where I might have read this?

  • 3
    It sounds like something that might have been said in a Discworld novel, but I can't be sure.
    – Xantec
    Commented Nov 30, 2011 at 15:59
  • 1
    @Xantec: On the Discworld, it's all about the Colour of Magic, not though, about it's smell. (Octarine, IIRC.)
    – sbi
    Commented Dec 6, 2011 at 19:10
  • hmmm, sounds like a phrase from Diana Wynne Jones. Let me check which works were already out in the eighties that would refer to magic having a good smell... (my library isn't here, though)
    – sq33G
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 9:22
  • Looking again - I didn't see anything in her wikipedia page that would both be from the 80s or earlier and refer to magic as having a delicious smell, from what I recall of the works
    – sq33G
    Commented Dec 26, 2011 at 9:33
  • "An orphaned child and captive scullery maid, young Willadene possesses an uncanny ability to sense and understand the magical odors that pervade her world. " is a description for "Scent of Magic" by Andre Norton. This is part of a Five Senses series but is was first published in 1998
    – Darius
    Commented Dec 30, 2011 at 23:32

3 Answers 3


The only occurrence on the web is in a Harry Potter/Buffy fanfic: Willow Tree Burning by Houses. In chapter 44:

Willow could smell mold and mildew, dark dank things, but also the delicious smell of magic, bright and hot, calling to her. She closed her eyes and let it flow in. It was right there for the taking, only one frail human body standing in the way. She could take down Voldemort; she could take down Giles and Rack and Warren. Surely little Peter Pettigrew would be no problem.

Not something you would have read in the 1980's. It's quite possible that many authors have used the same phrase.

If the phrase ever occurred in a Discworld novel, I guess that would be Sourcery (1988). But I while there are many passages about the attraction of magic, I don't remember reading about its smell.

  • No, pretty sure it wasn't Sourcery. I have a vague memory that the speaker was a young girl, and that the magic she was thinking about was the more homespun variety, rather than wizardry, but as this would have been maybe 25 years or more ago, my memory could be completely wrong. Commented Dec 2, 2011 at 8:47
  • That description makes me think of Equal Rites, but I don't remember any passage like it. Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 17:02
  • Equal Rites did involve the smell of magic, but I believe it was either "earthy" or "spicy," rather than delicious. The speaker was a girl of eight or twelve. I will post the passage tomorrow when I can lay my hands on the book. Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 4:02

A quick look on google books, between 1979 and 1990 gives me those hits. No mention of the smell being delicious though.


In The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott each persons magic has their own scent for example the main characters' magic smelled like oranges and vanilla respectively.

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