The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister Book Review

Erica Bauermeister, the national bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients, presents a moving and evocative coming-of-age novel about childhood stories, families lost and found, and how a fragrance conjures memories capable of shaping the course of our lives.

Emmeline lives an enchanted childhood on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world through her senses. What he won’t explain are the mysterious scents stored in the drawers that line the walls of their cabin, or the origin of the machine that creates them. As Emmeline grows, however, so too does her curiosity, until one day the unforeseen happens, and Emmeline is vaulted out into the real world–a place of love, betrayal, ambition, and revenge. To understand her past, Emmeline must unlock the clues to her identity, a quest that challenges the limits of her heart and imagination.

Lyrical and immersive, The Scent Keeper explores the provocative beauty of scent, the way it can reveal hidden truths, lead us to the person we seek, and even help us find our way back home.


“Told in a lyrical, haunting prose, the story provides fascinating information about the ways in which different fragrances can impact human behavior and the struggles of finding one’s own identity. An artfully crafted coming-of-age story that will take the reader on an exquisite olfactory adventure. ” – Kirkus

“This coming-of-age story delights the senses, immersing the reader in the sights, sounds, and scents of the
wilderness and city life. Fans of Mary Simses and Jennifer Close will fall in love with Bauermeister’s plucky heroine, the layers of family secrets, the lush settings, and the painfully tender relationships.” – Booklist

“Woven through [Emmeline’s] life’s journey is a multi-layered story of fragrance and its evocative power, as strong and tenacious as this sensuous novel’s plucky heroine.” – Shelf Awareness, Starred Review

“[A] magical novel…Blending fantasy with a realist family drama, Bauermeister’s novel will enchant fans of Katherine Paterson.” – Publishers Weekly

“For lovers of ChocolatThe Scent Keeper evokes emotion and magic through the senses.” –Jennie Shortridge, author of Eating Heaven

“A fascinating, totally original and captivating tale about how the love that separates us is also the love that keeps us together.”―M.J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Lost Fragrances

“The author hits it out of the park with the most superb sense of place I’ve read in a long time. It’s a coming of age tale, featuring a young heroine as narrator who makes serious mistakes, learns much from them, and ultimately redeems herself. Beautifully and masterfully written. I highly recommend it.” – Elizabeth George, New York Times and international bestselling author

“Bauermeister deftly weaves plot and language into a luminous discovery of love―for another person, for a place, and ultimately for oneself.” – Carol Cassella, national bestselling author of Oxygen

“Bauermeister’s heroine Emmeline might also be kin to Jane Eyre. Heartbreaking, thrilling, and wonderfully instructive, this sensual novel is pure pleasure reading.”―Adrianne Harun, bestselling author of A Man Came Out of A Door in the Mountain

“Some very special books have the power to change the reader–The Scent Keeper is one of those. This is a book to be devoured, no, to be inhaled, and held deeply.” – Dave Boling, author of Guernica

“One of the most enchanting, unique books I’ve ever read.” – Anna Quinn, author of The Night Child and owner The Writers’ Workshop and Imprint Bookstore

About the Author

Emmeline and her father live on a small island—all alone and in the middle of nowhere. Emmeline knows next to nothing about how they got there, and whenever she works up the courage to ask her father, he only answers in riddles or short “end of conversation!” statements. She loves the island, and she loves her father, so she doesn’t push.

What she does know is that they need to protect the scents. In their small cabin is a whole wall of tiny drawers filled with little corked bottles. Each bottle contains a slip of paper with a specific scent on it—maybe spruce wood or lavender. The bottles can’t be opened often, lest the scent escape, but from a young age, Emmeline understands that her father will do anything to preserve all the smells trapped inside.

I don’t want to say too much more about this book, because it is a lovely mystery that reveals itself ever so slowly and subtly over time. The story is unlike anything I’ve read before, and the writing is beyond. Like beyond beyond. It’s poetry. You know when you read an amazing book and it makes you feel a little depressed, because you know you will never write something as good as what you just read? Yeah, that’s The Scent Keeper. Some of the descriptions of Emmeline’s scents left me honest-to-God breathless. I’m still in awe.

My only minor complaint is that the conclusion felt abrupt—not by too much, but by just enough that I’m going to whine about it. Is the ending like one of Emmeline’s scents? Am I supposed to supply the missing note? I don’t know, but I needed a three-page epilogue, something to give me the closure I was looking for.

But this is a minor gripe, and I still loved, loved the book. The Scent Keeper is going to stay with me a long time, and I will definitely be checking out author Erica Bauermeister’s other work. What a phenomenal story.


Buy The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister