Book Review: The Miniaturist – by Jessie Burton

I decided to give The Miniaturist a read because I had seen so many reviews and advertisements about it, even a TV advert which I think is quite rare for a book. Also, it is a mystery novel (and I love a good mystery).

The Miniaturist is set in the late 1600’s in Amsterdam. The protagonist, Nella Oortman, moves from her family house in the country to her new town house in which she is to live with her newly wedded husband, her sister in law, and their two servants. Her husband, Johannes Brandt, gives Nella a cabinet-sized replica of their home as a wedding gift. Nella writes to an unnamed miniaturist and asks her to help furnish the miniature house; however, she begins to receive more miniature pieces than she has requested. Nella soon discovers that these extra pieces symbolise events and secrets that are taking place within her household- events that are impossible for anybody who lives outside the household to know about. Sometimes they even symbolise events that have not yet taken place. The miniaturist seems to be the architect of their fate.

I really enjoyed this novel as there was a lot of suspense and moments that were unexpected. I like it when I cannot predict a story and there were a couple of genuine moments throughout the novel that I had not foreseen. The novel was also written with a lot of detail, so whilst reading I was able to place myself in Amsterdam in the 1600’s, and in a house full of secrets.

However, there were also a couple of points to the novel that I enjoyed less. One of these points is that I found it took quite a long time to get into the novel. Although Nella receives her first delivery from the miniaturist fairly early on in the book, I felt that it took longer than necessary for the author to truly reveal that the miniaturist was creating pieces that related to the secrets in Nella’s life. Also, we never actually find out how the miniaturist knows all of these secrets, which is probably a deliberate move by the author to leave the reader wondering, but nevertheless I found it quite annoying. Despite the novel being a mystery, I would have liked to have known more about the miniaturist. But I suppose you can’t have everything.

I would give this novel 4 stars.

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