I remember seeing The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister floating around #bookstagram a year or so ago. The cover is beautiful, the premise intrigued me, but for whatever reason, I set it to the side on my #tbr. That is until this weekend. What a wonderful choice of book to get lost in over a weekend at home with no plans. I found myself transported to the ocean coast and remote island where Emmaline lived with her father. I swear I could smell all of the scents she described and found myself taken with this book. Reminiscent of Delia Owens breakout hit, Where the Crawdads Sing, The Scent Keeper has similar themes, but with a magical twist involving scents and the memories they hold and evoke.
Emmeline lives on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the world around her through her sense of smell. Each item carries it's own distinct smell and he teaches her how these smells can evoke memories, feelings, and help guide you throughout life. When the unthinkable happens, Emmeline must return to the shore and live life as an ordinary girl, but she is far from ordinary. A coming-of-age story about fairy tales, family, and how scents play a major role in our lives, The Scent Keeper is a magical tale that will have you questioning if you are smelling the same scents Emmaline describes on each page.
The Scent Keeper is immersive and the sense of place is so prevalent that it is almost it's own character. I love a good coming-of-age story, especially when it involves a female protagonist, so this one had me hooked after the first few chapters. This one is immersive, lyrical, and sensory. At times, I honestly felt like I could smell the scents Emmaline described and that is a testament to good writing.
I loved Emmaline's story and how she found comfort in her friend Fisher, as they both navigated school as outcasts. Their love story is sweet, innocent, and refreshing. Coupled with outside drama that threatens to pull them apart forever, I rooted for these young lovers. I also enjoyed Emmaline's journey to find out the truth about her history. She was raised on fairy tales told to her by her father, never really knowing the true history of her family and how she ended up on the island with her father.
I highly recommend this one to fans of Where the Crawdads Sing as it has similar themes and strong sense of place. I could see a potential sequel, as the ending leaves much to the imagination of these characters future.
"It seems like all we do is re-create our parent's mistakes, " he said. "So what if we both just stopped?" I asked."
"Scents were like rain, or birds. They left and came back."
"Scents were always about what was growing and what was dying. What would last through the next season. This was just with people instead of trees or flowers or dirt. Maybe I could read them after all. The thought gave me hope."
Read this book if you liked:
*Click the title links for my full review*
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Content warning: domestic abuse, death of parent, bullying, sexual harrasment