The Scent Keeper

Well-written and thought-provoking, The Scent Keeper is the read you didn’t know you needed.


  • Want a richly human read
  • Enjoy the blend of art and science
  • Want an unusual story

TitleThe Scent Keeper | Author: Erica Bauermeister  | Rating: 4/5

What a rich read! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up The Scent Keeper, and reviews were mixed. But the storyline intrigued me.

The story is surprisingly rich and deep, with a young girl – Emmeline – living on a deserted island with only monthly (or less) drops of supplies. She’s with her father, who captures scents with the machine he invented. But when Emmeline is 12, tragedy strikes, and she’s picked up by the supply man and taken to live with him and his wife.

Emmeline carries the guilt of the tragedy, as she moves through her life. She’s made fun of at school for her unusual ability to smell things. She’s a nose, she smells the top, middle, and bottom bases of things, just like her father taught her to. She knows smells can take you places, bring back things once lost, and she’s knows the power of scents.

The story is so unusual, though it’s not far-fetched. Emmeline’s father’s machine captures the smells of memories, much like a photograph captures the light. The story is based on scentography: the camera that records your favorite smells. In the story, the machine is called The Nightingale, though in real life, designer Amy Radcliffe is behind The Madeleine, which is “developed in the college’s Textile Futures department, draws on “headspace capture” techniques pioneered in the 1970s by Swiss fragrance chemist Roman Kaiser, for obtaining the composition of rare botanical scents for the perfume industry.”

Emmeline’s father does the same thing – with a click of a button, he captures a scent on a scent paper, then bottles them in glass, saving them for later. And so the story continues, with the story interweaving Emmeline’s life against the backdrop of her father’s failed invention, and her “kidnapping” from her mother.

The story was rich and pulled me in, and I didn’t want to put it down. I kept thinking about it, and the premise of capturing scents and memories, to be opened and enjoyed later, much like photographs.

Well-written and thought-provoking, The Scent Keeper is the read you didn’t know you needed.

Quotes pulled from The Guardian, Scentography: the camera that records your favourite smells

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