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.
This is the February selection for Reese's Book Club- and one thing I love about book clubs is that books pop up that I might not have found on my own, but which I end up absolutely loving. This is one of those books. I think it comes down to one simple fact- and that is the existance of everyday magic.
At the outset of the book Emmeline lives on the island with just her father and a machine that captures scents on paper that can be bottled up and opened later, a poloraid of smells. Emmeline believes in that magic, until it's shattered, both figeratively and literally and then Emmeline has to find a new way to exist in a world that she has been kept outside of for her whole life.
As the book unfolds we find this uneasy balance of reality and magic as Emmeline first moves to Secret Cove where she finds a family that loves and supports her, and then later realizes that even that can be shattered. Again, Emmeline goes out looking for answers and discovers her mother, who she long believed didn't exist, and with her mother discovers some hard truths about who her family really is. Throughout Emmeline tries to hold tight to who she is and navigate a world that is foreign to her.
What I appreciate most about this book is that Bauermeister doesn't shy away from the hard truths. That even in the presence of magical things, there is also evil. Emmeline's first real friend Fisher lives with his abusive father and a mother who won't ever leave. Fisher learns to read people the way Emmeline reads smells and lives a life where he is always on the edge. This is real life and Bauermeister doesn't hide the damage that living in an abusive home does. Fisher, like Emmeline, is trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in and how he can survive. With Emmeline he finally feels a moment of peace and he spends time oth trying to hold on to that and running away. That the story gives both Emmeline and Fisher time and space to figure their lives out is a great thing that we don't often see in books.
In the end Bauermeister gives us the story we need and not neccesarily the one we want. I was invested in Fisher and Emmeline and wanted to follow them on their happy ever after. The books ends before that, leaving us with the promise of a future for them and the hope that they will face a world full of both evil and magic together and come out the other side okay.
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