Alexis: The Scent Keeper is my kind of book: character-driven, lyrical, unique, and full of sensory imagery.
The story centers around Emmeline, who grows up on a remote island with her father, and she has never seen another living soul. Her father has a magic machine that can capture scents, and he stores these scents in bottles. But after a life-changing event, Emmeline has to face the outside world, her past, and her family.
Bauermeister’s writing is beautiful, and often leans towards magical realism. I love how she writes about scents and Emmeline’s relationship with scents: “The smell of cardamom preceded the woman into the room, soft and comforting. A memory opened–one of the scent-papers from a red-wax bottle, with the fragrance of a sultry place that had wound itself around me, kissed my skin. Cardamom, my father had said. They hide like treasure” (66).
This is a coming-of-age story, and I really enjoyed learning about Emmeline as she learned about herself, too. I especially enjoyed reading about her connection to the natural world around her and here struggle to connect with other people and find her place in the world. But as I said, the star of this book is how the author fashions a world that revolves around scents.
My only critique is that I wish the ending had come more full circle; it felt a little abrupt and unfinished.
I highly recommend giving this a read!
VERDICT: 5 stars