The Scent Keeper
By Erica Bauermeister
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200136, May 2019, 320pp.
The Short of It:
If you’ve ever been fascinated with scent and the memories associated with it, you will enjoy The Scent Keeper.
The Rest of It:
Emmaline and her father live on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. There, her father collects scents, memories really on little slips of paper that he keeps in wax-sealed bottles. He captures these scents using a special machine of his, one that has always been magical in Emmaline’s eyes.
As Emmaline grows older, she learns that there is more than just life on the island and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by these scents. A collection that holds her father’s attention more than anything else. In a moment of frustration, Emmaline makes a decision that not only affects her place on the island, but her future as well.
I was completely taken with the first half of this novel. I am a scent person. There is always a candle nearby, or a fragrant hand lotion, or perfume or something because certain scents make me happy and I surround myself with them. The first half of this novel was magical to me. The ties between scent and memory really gave me warm, happy feelings. Think about how you feel when you smell warm apple pie or cookies baking in the oven. Lovely, right?
Well, the second half of the novel was quite different. Although it still explored scent, it didn’t do so in the innocent way of memories. It was tied to money and manipulation which for me, was a real turn-off. I realize that the author was probably playing the two experiences off of one another but the story lost its magic when money was brought into it. It added a grittiness that I did not enjoy.
I love this author though. I’ve read three other books by Bauermeister so I am really familiar with her work. The Scent Keeper has a totally different feel than any of her other books so if you are looking for it to be similar you will be disappointed. Personally, I would have liked the second half to go a different way but I am not a bestselling author.
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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12 thoughts on “Review: The Scent Keeper”
I’ve read mixed things about this book – maybe it’s because the two halves are so different.
My mouth was watering while reading her other books. She is a foodie and I think that really appealed to me. This book is nothing like that and not food related at all. I wouldn’t say that’s her thing but she writes very well and whatever she writes about is very descriptive. I just wish the second half was stronger.
Scents really are a huge part of life and I think you and I are opposites on this topic. I can’t stand strong scents like perfumes, smelly candles and lotions, fish, etc. Maybe I just have a sensitive nose. 🙂
I can’t do strong scents either but if it’s a really good scent, preferably mimicking nature in some way, I will just keep it around me. Lately the rosemary from the college garden has been amazing. I keep pulling off sprigs to keep in my office.
Rosemary is definitely a good one, as is vanilla. Those two I like.
I have read most of her books, too. That’s why I love Jo Malone stuff…it’s so light and woodsy and natural.
I love Jo Malone too but it never stays with me. There are at least ten fragrances I love from that line.
This sounds good. There are few scents that take me right back to my childhood.
Scents can make or break my mood. I can instantly become happy at the smell of orange blossoms blooming.
For many years we lived next to an orange grove and our driveway was the only thing between us and the trees. I loved sitting outside and smelling the orange blossoms.
That would be glorious. I have a jasmine vine on my front gate so during the early part of spring, when I walk up to my front door that beautiful smell wafts over to me. I could be having the worst day ever and all I need is a whiff of something good to set me straight.
This seems like it veered off into unwelcome territory. That’s a bummer, but i do love this author’s previous work.