For this final day of October and in wrapping up our 31 Days of Horror here at Unquiet Things, we are going out in style! With reviews of twenty fragrances from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Autumn/Halloween collection!

…and also a giveaway! For one bottle of their Junji Ito-inspired Tomie perfume! If you want to read my full review of the fragrance, you can find that here.

If you would like the opportunity to win this perfume AND you live in the US, leave a comment on this blog post to be entered into the giveaway! Tell me about your favorite Halloween tradition, favorite scary movie, favorite autumnal scent–whatever you like! One winner —please note, you must be in the US to win— will be selected on Tuesday November 7th! [GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! CONGRATS JILLIAN!]

I am sorry, but shipping outside the US is too onerous, so please, please note this giveaway is for folks who live in the US only! (I’m sorry I have to sound so desperate about it, but why does no one ever read that part? Please read it!)

Anyway, let’s get to the reviews!

A Timid Twinkling Golden Star (tuberose and sweet amber) A dusty, honeyed wistful, sepia-tinted floral; the olfactory representation of the concept of “dés-vu”, or the awareness that this moment will become a memory.

A Little Silver Scimitar (foamy orris and ambergris accord pierced by a sliver of white fir needle, moonflower, and cypress) This smells …”incisive” is the word that comes to mind. It knows something, visions of silver, fruit, blood. I picture less a scimitar and more a little letter opener, sharp-edged glinting, used to liberate clever missives, mince sour slivers of plum, impale inconstant hearts.

Witch’s Currant Cake (red currant and rosewater gooseberry cake with a sugar-dusted gingerbread crumble topping) Whenever I see the word “gooseberry” I think of the time I spent listening to Eddie Izzard’s memoir and how his British pronunciation (“guuzbury”) always makes me smile. As a matter of fact, this sweet/sour, tart/tangy scent blanketed with a molassey-gingery cozy streusel, could even be the cake he’s talking about in his “Cake or death?” clip from his Dressed To Kill special. Let’s just make it canon. Our beloved, wicked Eddie Izzard circa 1999 smells like a guuzbury gâteau, a witch’s currant cake.

Ghost Milk (goat’s milk, marshmallow, vanilla cashmere, honey dust, and white chocolate) There’s nothing fruity listed in here but this perfume is fruity, cereal-miky, and fuzzy, like slurping a bowl of Frankenberries from the pocket of your softest, pinkest, plushest hoodie. A hoodie that definitely hoodies. I watch too much TikTok.

Mummy Milk (condensed milk wrapped in coconut shavings and tea-stained linen with a hint of bitumen, myrrh, and embalming resins) Wild grains and rustic incense, something roasting over a fire until it pops and frills, and carried over the fields on the dry wind of a warm September daydream.

Snooty Bat (sugared patchouli, nag champa, black leather, and clove) and Snootier Bat (all the sugared incense you can shake a wing at with double the leather and a dollop of thick, inky black musk) These two fragrances initially reminds me of how my sisters and I might gaze at each other in abject befuddlement and say something like “That is such a bizarre thing to do–how are we even related??” Snooty with a leather that’s almost midnight-stormy sky-ozonic at the onset, and Snootier opens all gloomy musk and plummy treacle. After a moment though, it becomes apparent that they are siblings, an iron-rich vein of incense connecting them. As they wear, they grow apart and drift away from each other, Snooty becoming darker and more unrepentantly patchoulified by the hour, and Snootier, half sick of shadows, transforms into a soft, cozy creamy thing.

Batty Lace (dry flowers, aged linens, and the faint breath of long-faded perfumes with well-worn leather and caramel musk) “A leathered up, musky interpretation of BPAL’s Antique Lace.” The caramel aspect of this blend is what I notice most, a buttery-milky brown sugar caramel that wants to ooze over vanilla ice cream rather than firm up into fudgy squares. Shifting beneath the caramel are those faint, faded attic-trunk florals and creamy cobwebby linens I recall from Antique Lace and a cracked leather buckle so ghostly and elusive I’m not sure if it was actually ever there at all.

Batty Cathedral (leathery wings flapping through billows of incense smoke) I was writing this review and Ývan walked into the room, saw the label art up on the screen, and exclaimed, “Say, that bat’s wearing a fez!” So it is!  Anyway. The leather in this blend is an airy, floral leather, conjuring visions of a little bat snoot dootling deep in trellis vining, moon-luminous night-blooming flowers. The incense is cool and crystalline, frost on stone, smoky winter mists high on a mountain while a witch sits in silence, tracing runes in the snow.  Like a Wardruna video. With more bats and flowers and witches.

Dead Leaves, Paper, and Smoke This one has a spectral and musty quality, like shed snake skins and brittle, broken bird’s nests, but also oddly evokes spring leaves, damp and dewy and almost jittery green, teeming with chlorophyll. It culminates in a fragrance that you might attribute to an altar deep kept in the wood, obeisance to a thing so old it doesn’t even have a name, with offerings of shoots and stems, bones and claws, trinkets both living and dead. 

Dead Leaves, Balsam, and Green Musk The greenest stickiest resins, tree gum, and sap, tingly with a frisson of spearminty-pennyroyal cool-electric-crispness.

Dead Leaves, Shortbread, and Crystallized Ginger The softly decaying dead leaves component of this perfume is so fleeting, almost as if leaf litter and loam were used as padding for a parcel of treats, but the parcel was delivered and the packaging was tossed willy nilly, and what we are left with is the sugar-crusted delight of candied ginger-flecked buttery shortbread with crisp, caramelized edges.

Skelemingo (pink grapefruit and black licorice) it’s the most bonederful time of the year! Wherein even things that do not have bony skeletons inside their skins get treated to cheap plastic skeletons and sold for $5.99 at Michaels and Party City. Worm, you get a skeleton! Octopus, you get a skeleton! And so on! The flamingo does in fact have a skeleton and as scientists know, its aroma is that of the most delicious bitter grapefruit Haribo candy cross-bred with salty Icelandic lakkrís, spliced with white chocolate.When I talk about my profound love for things that inspire a sense of demented glee, a fragrance like this is exactly what I am thinking of.

Hand-Knitted Witch Gloves (raw wool, sweet oakmoss, and cranberry brandy) I don’t talk about fragrances in terms of whether they are masculine or feminine–that’s dumb and limiting!–but I will say that this scent is initially, and surprisingly, quite “handsome.” An aroma that at first evokes some sort of rare, centuries-old cognac and things being aged in French oak barrels, but then because you have no use for stodgy tradition, you eschew drinking it neat and instead concoct a cranberry Manhattan with bitters and vermouth, garnished with a wooly frizzle of earthen moss because you are actually just three gnomes in a trench coat.

Things Are Fine (white sandalwood smoke, hinoki, white tea, and falling leaves) Washing your hair with a fragrant aromatherapeutic “spa-like” shampoo and then immediately running outdoors on a crisp October afternoon and rolling around in a pile of loamy leaves and moss, like a great shaggy golden retriever after a bath. This is stunning. STUNNING.

A Melancholy of Goths (clove smoke, champaca incense, plum velvet, and hairspray) Can you think of anything more goth than a marble gargoyle in a mourning veil perched atop a crumbling gravestone wearing perfume of honeyed funereal florals & infernal incense ash? That is exactly what this smells like. It also smells like what I imagine Anna Falchi in Cemetery Man smells like.

Pumpkin Spice Dark-n-Stormy (extra spicy rum fizzed up with ginger beer and garnished with a lime) Utterly incandescent. Crystalline radium glass lime, the sticky bite of ginger syrup + a dry dram of allspice’s mince pie charm.

Make A Face (yellow bergamot, white pomegranate rind, lemon peel, and white musk) This smells like a thick, nourishing lemon salve that you aren’t supposed to eat but holy jeez you are definitely tempted to eat it. Ývan says he thinks it smells like luxurious lemon peel soap, to which I countered “But do you want to eat it?” And he was like like “Well, I mean yes.” This is one of those simple scents that somehow doesn’t seem like there’s much to it, and yet is more than the sum of its parts and is weirdly definitely habit-forming.

Halloween Cat (cacao and coconut husk dusted on shining black fur, illuminated by electric green mandarin and raw amber) I wouldn’t typically use the words “chocolatey” and “fresh” together in the same sentence and I don’t know that’s what I am doing here either–but I don’t know that I am not? Halloween cat smells a bit like huffing dry brownie mix; absent the sweetness and gooeyness, there’s a bracing, savory aspect to the cocoa. A pale nimbus of citrus hovers, a timorous, shimmering aurora haloing the arid chocolate.

Witch in the Woods (blackthorn, mandrake root, and myrrh scratching through cypress boughs, blackberry resin, and incense smoke) A tangled orchard, a forest-jam tart, a sharpened blade kissed-thrice, batwings circling an autumn moonrise–all of these trapped in a waxen candy wrapper curse.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab 2023 Halloween collection is currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available.

Need more ‘Weenies? Have a peep at my ‘Weenie reviews from the autumns of yesteryear 2022 // 2021 // 2020 // 2019 // 2018 // 2017 // 2016 

And PSSSST! Did you know I have collected all of my BPAL reviews into one spot? Here you will find 88 pages of my thoughts and rambles on various limited-edition scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab over the years: BPAL REVIEWS BY S. ELIZABETH (PDF download)

Are you new to one of our very favorite indie perfumers, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab? See my three-part primer herehere, and here

If you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?


Hannah says

What wonderful reviews! I would love to enter the giveaway. I have to say apple butter is my favorite autumn scent! It fills me with so much nostalgia. And since I love horror movies, it’s crazy hard to pinpoint a favorite, but for this season maybe Sleepy Hollow. It really puts me in a Halloweeny frame if mind. Also a big fan of The Conjuring, and Ghost Ship is a great dumb horror movie.

Shawnae says

I love Halloween. Always have. I didn't really grow up with people creating traditions but I make sure I have for my own kids. Every year we make Halloween cookies and have apple Cider while we watch the Halloween town films. It's nice to see my kids so excited for Halloween treats. Also I'd say my favorite scary movie would have to be Rosemary's Baby. It's just a gorgeous film and I'm a fan of the book.

Amanda says

Mummy Milk sounds delicious! That was one that caught my eye when these dropped. I find that a lot of wool blends pull “handsome” too, I think I’m on the hunt for that dusty oily wool scent that makes me smell like a moth eaten blanket. * sighs wistfully *

ReenS says

My favorite Halloween memory is our 2005 Halloween trip to Transylvania, Romania, where my husband's paternal grandparents emigrated from. It was like literally stepping back to the medieval times - shepherds holding crooks, tending flocks of sheep in the field, farmers traveling by horse-drawn carts loaded down with hay, tall conical haystacks in every yard, and more cabbages than I've ever seen, in each cottage's small farm. I have too many memories to mention. Climbing the 1480 steps to get to the ruins of Vlad Dracula's Poenari Fortress was a highlight, as was trying to make our way down those same stairs long after dark.

Maddie says

My favorite Halloween tradition is spending the entire month watching horror movies!

Megan says

So excited for my weenies, waiting on most from a decant circle! So far I’ve gotten Batty Lace (lab-direct) and it went directly to “top shelf” status in my collection. The soft, delicate caramel Antique Lace is amazing, the leather isn’t noticeable as such to me - if anything, the softest, mildest, faintest, most-blended background whisper of leather imaginable. Love.

Meg says

My favorite part of Halloween is taking my little one trick or treating! It's wonderful to see the joy and excitement of all the kids, and their cute costumes.

Susan Jamison says

My favorite autumnal scent is one that you gifted me back in 2019, Pumpkins Crave Quietude from Arcana Craves. I have since purchased another little bottle. It smells like sweet vanilla, amber, musk, pumpkin, spices, and the joy of receiving special gifts. The scent pairs well with a fall tradition I recently indulged in for the first time, THE famous Pumpkin Spice Latte. Five-dollar specialty coffee drinks always seemed like they were for a different type of gal than me. This year I learned, I can has pumpkin spice.

Jessica says

I love Halloween! Riding past decorations on my bike, watching spooky movies all months long, “leaf peeping” in the mountains! Wearing a Black Phoenix scent every Halloween (cause, of course! Usually Samhain). xx

Bryn says

My favorite autumnal scents in general are bonfire, toasted marshmallow, and dried wet leaves. For perfume, I recently became hooked on a sample of Eau Duelle EDP by Diptyque, which I will cherish until I have the disposable funds to buy the full-size. 🥰

Hailey says

Halloween was my favorite holiday as a kid! I remember watching Halloween movies with my brother & counting down the days until Halloween, the excitement almost overflowing because we would talk about Halloween all August & September long. I ordered "Witches currant cake" a bit ago & I'm waiting for it to ship, but I'm so excited to finally smell it! I love how you describe fragrance & reading this blog was such a nice treat <3 Happy Halloween!

Melanie says

lovely reviews! My favorite fall smell is apple cider donuts!! and dead leaves too :)

Heather says

Amazing! Thank you for all the lovely reviews ❤️

Obviously Halloween is my favorite holiday, with Christmas coming up as a very close second. My favorite Halloweenie has always been Pumpkin Queen! I love dark sweet resins with gourmand flourishes.

ninsiana0 says

I have the whole collection of gingerbread monster cookies, and the monster milk collection is definitely testing my restraint. Also: I agree--Things Are Fine is absolutely stunning.

My favorite Halloween traditions are getting together with my best friend from high school. We're in out 40s now & still have a queer little party every year and dress up as our greatest fantasies. It's my favorite holiday.

kate says

love to see your reviews, as i am still waiting on some BPAL decants from the halloweenie collection-it gets me even more excited to try them! i've always loved halloween, and sometimes i do the month-long horror theme, but not every year. i have too many favorite horror movies to name but a few are argento's phenomena, carrie and coppola's dracula. happy halloween!

Tamara says

Halloween has always been a big thing for my family. Back when my older nephews were kids, we turned the act of coming to our door to pick up candy into an act of courage. My house is old and creepy looking and for a few years there, was known as "The Scary House." We stopped terrorizing children for their candy reward after that one year where the house was so freaky-looking only the teens braved the yard. We still give out candy and dress up, we just keep it little kid friendly =D

Katie Baird says

I always love reading your reviews. So exited, finally putting my weenie order in today in Halloween celebration! Too many favorite fall scents to name but currently wearing a lot of Samhain in the Pumpkin Patch, Pinched with Four Pumpkins, and The Gourd of Deprivation!

Lily says

My favorite Halloween tradition is when my mom and I would roast pumpkin seeds after carving. We always did two batches. One spicy with Cajun seasoning and the other would be butter, sugar, and cinnamon! My current autumn scent is BPAL Morocco that I actually got from my mom! Haha

Heather says

These are wonderful to read, the only one I bought out of these is Batty Cathedral (though I did get Bat SO and Sleepy Bat to look forward to!) But you've definitely piqued my interest with Witch in the Woods too. I may need to keep an eye out for that one...

Also my favorite Halloween tradition is not so much Halloween but I do make an ofrenda for my precious dog, Jim, every year. With candles and marigolds, his favorite old toys and lots of carrots! He LOVED carrots.

Jillian says

I love Halloween! I think its one of the most fun holidays. It should honestly be a national holiday! This year, me and my friends joined this cosplay run where we jog through the city dressed up as our favourite characters. I dressed up as Ada Wong from the video game Resident Evil. It was so much fun and so many people cheered for us!
I'm still waiting on my BPAL Halloween decants. I'm more excited than ever after reading your descriptions! In the meantime, I've been wearing Lush's Turmeric Latte, a super warm, cozy, sweet, spicy scent, suited for the coldest days.

Jillian says

Also, just wanna say thanks for all the BPAL reviews over the years and combining them into one PDF!

Smokey says

You won me over on the witch cake one, I need that so bad. I just got the pumpkin butter cream hair gloss 🤔

Han says

I always loved making Halloween sugar cookies, my family has a ghost and black scaredy cat cookie cutter from wilton that I use every year as our special tradition. The black cat cookies always dye your tongue a dark green but it's part of the charm.

Spectral says

Thank you so much for these evocative and helpful reviews. I've added Things are Fine BACK to my massive Weenies list...
My favourite part about autumn is smelling the changes in the air, the woods, all the shifts in properties between warm and cold weather, and slow decay. The trees here have a soft, warm cinnamon-y boom of fragrance from the trees before fall hits fully.
This year, I enjoy my sister and her new puppy dressed up as dinosaurs 🦖

Danielle P says

My Halloween tradition is watching a Halloween-ish YouTube playlist that I've been curating for years. Hope you can enjoy it too!

A Moray says

My favorite Halloween tradition is going on quiet graveyard walks. Thanks for the awesome reviews!

therabbitsflower says

Thanks for the giveaway and reviews! I just finished reading Tomie a couple weeks ago. As far as Halloween traditions, it's always watching movies that take place on Halloween and more recently has also included taking many walks leading up to Halloween to see how homes are decorated in the neighborhood. There are a few streets near us with lots of big, older homes that really go all out with their decorations.

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