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Review: The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper

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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