Book Review | The Miniaturist
Title: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Genres: Mystery, Magical Realism
Published by: Ecco Press (Aug. 26th, 2014)
Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam–a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion–a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.
“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”
On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.
But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .
Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
The Miniaturist is a book that I had been meaning to read for so long. I’ve had this book for a couple years now, but just kept putting it off for one reason or another. Well, thanks to the new mini-series, I finally decided to pick it up!
Going into this book, I didn’t know what to expect. After finishing this book, I can say that it is unlike anything I’ve ever read before!
The characters in The Miniaturist were all so unique and well-done. Nella made a great lead character, and I loved reading about her and her new life. She was understandably naive, but as the novel progressed, I really felt like I watched her grow up and mature. Marin, in particular, was another well-written, fully dimensional character. Her character was so complex, and she really bought something unique to the story, in my opinion.
Aside from the characters, I absolutely adored the atmosphere and setting of this novel. I haven’t read many books set in the 17th century, so I didn’t know how I would feel about it, but I ended up really being so immersed in the setting. The overall atmosphere of The Miniaturist is so enchanting, too. It just has that air of mystery laced throughout the entire novel, like anything can happen.
The writing was so beautiful, too! This was my first Jessie Burton novel, but definitely will not be my last. The author just has such a way with words, and The Miniaturist is written in a way that just makes you want to continue reading it and never stop.
I will say, however, that I do wish the actual miniaturist was in the story a bit more. While I would definitely classify this book as mysterious, I kept waiting for a little bit more from the miniaturist.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. While some parts felt like they were slightly lacking, the beautiful writing and memorable characters made up for that. The Miniaturist is such a unique book that will break your heart and fill you with hope. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is into historical fiction or is looking for an original read.