On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .
Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?
Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
I was provided a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Unputdownable. That pretty much sums up my review of The Miniaturist.
When I started reading the novel, I expected a gentle stroll through the streets of seventeenth-century Amsterdam. And I did; Burton has a compelling, Chevalier-esque style of writing. The scene is set with rich period detail and beautiful depictions of the city.
What I didn’t expect was for it to be as gripping as it was; The Miniaturist was well-paced and had just enough tension and mystery to keep me reading through the night… and the next morning. I pretty much didn’t stop till I finished the book.
I would have liked to have seen a little more of the miniaturist, however. Despite being the focus of the title and part of the premise, her role – direct or otherwise – does very little in actually effecting the main events of the book.
This didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel, it actually fuelled my desire to learn more about the miniaturist’s abilities and her mysterious background. Now I can only hope that a second book will come out that uncovers her history.
All in all, The Miniaturist is a gripping and imaginative tale that, in my opinion, takes literary historical fiction to the next level. A brilliant debut, and one that I highly recommend.