The daughter and apprentice of a famous magic-worker who helps others fall in love doesn’t know the feeling herself.
Bay Area residents Mimosa and her mother are the world’s last two aromateurs, “love witches” with senses of smell so precise they, like their ancestors, perceive individual scentprints the way most people can distinguish faces. They dedicate themselves to making pro-bono customized love elixirs for clients. But the cost of being an aromateur is high for 15-year-old Mim: she’s not supposed to fall in love herself, or she’ll lose her “nose” and the ancestral profession will die. When Mim accidentally gives her algebra teacher’s scentprint elixir to school soccer star Court’s newly divorced mother, she must figure out a way to undo the damage before her mother finds out. The cast of characters is refreshingly diverse, starting with the multicultural Mim, her Samoan best friend Kali (who’s also LGBTQ), white Court, his Latina ex-girlfriend, and other identifiably ethnic students. Lee is a synesthete, and her appreciation of natural fragrances and botanicals is evident. Although not as exceptional as the author’s previous historical novels (Under a Painted Sky, 2015; Outrun the Moon, 2016), this contemporary fantasy is charming and likely to resonate with readers who gravitate toward romance or mother-daughter stories.
This imaginative and sweet coming-of-age tale is infused with the magic of first love. (Magical realism. 12-16)