Book Review | The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister

02 July 2020

One sign of truly great writing for me is when an author can fully utilize every human sense. Sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell. Using descriptive words that can emphasize the senses creates such an incredible atmosphere. It makes the story feel so much more real while you're reading. The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister stands as a testament to the five senses, specifically the sense of smell.

This book is an exploration of how, even if we may not think of it too much, scent is the foundation to many of our memories. The story follows Emmeline and her scientist father as they study scents on a secluded island. After a tragic accident rips Emmeline away from the only world she has known on the island, she is forced to question her history and the mystery surrounding her father's work.

I will say, I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot more than the second half. The coming-of-age aspects that came about in the second half were not executed as strongly as they could have been. Overall Emmeline did grow a lot through the short 300 pages of the book, and the plot took so many turns I wasn't expecting, and the last 50 pages really hooked me to the end.

The writing is what makes this book stand out, and was ultimately the reason I loved it. If you aren't a fan of flowery writing, this book probably isn't for you, but I absolutely adored it! This book is officially categorized as contemporary fiction, but because of the gorgeous writing, I felt like I was reading a magical realism book. It's so whimsical, it makes you feel like you're reading a fairytale.

The other aspect of this book that I loved was just the overall exploration of scents. The sense of smell is an underrated one, I think. It's quite possibly our strongest sense, yet it's the most difficult to express in writing. The way this book makes you think about the importance of smell, how it's used in advertising, how a smell can transport you to a memory instantly was so interesting. 

This is a book for people who love whimsy and mystery. It's a quick coming of age story with beautiful writing that would be a perfect summer beach read.

Rating: ★
"Scents were like rain, or birds. They left and came back." --Erica Bauermeister, The Scent Keeper

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