Book Review: The Miniaturist (Jessie Burton)

Details:Publisher: Picador
Pages: 424
Release Date: 1st January 2014

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives at a grand house in Amsterdam to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Though curiously distant, he presents 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 ring eerily true.


As Nella uncovers the secrets of her new household, she realises the escalating dangers they face. The miniaturist seems to hold their fate in her hands – but does she plan to save or destroy them?


I’d heard a lot about this book before I started it (who hasn’t really, it’s been everywhere!) and thought I’d give it a go, though I don’t often read ‘adult’ books.At the beginning, I didn’t get on well with it. I’m going to blame it on the fact it’s an adult book and it just moved too slow for me. I feel that in YA, there’s always grabs for my attention and a quick pace to keep me interested, but here there was a very slow build, so much so that almost half way in I was sure I wasn’t going to like it.

It did pick up, however. I think as soon as the first revelation hit (no spoilers!) I became more invested in the story. Before that, I felt sorry for Nella, and awkward around Marin and Johannes, but little else. Once one secret was out though, they kept coming, and worried how the family would cope.

I loved Marin’s character the most: I thought there were so many deft little touches there that made her so human: so full of contradictions, mood swings and uncertainty. She was by far my favourite, although the others were by no means sub par.

Strangely, when I think about this book, the actual minituarist doesn’t come to mind very much. It was the thing that drew me to it at first: the idea of seeing one’s life carved out in miniatures that also seem to predict the future. But I felt this story line didn’t really live out its potential: I thought the miniaturist would be someone of more importance, perhaps someone we knew, and that the uncanny ability to predict what was happening and what would happen to the family would be explained, but it never was. I just wanted more from that story line.

This book definitely grew on me. I’d advise you to stick with it if, like me, you struggle at the beginning, as it definitely gets more intriguing. That said though, I don’t think it’s one I will be reading again.

My Verdict:

I enjoyed – give it a read


If you enjoyed this you might like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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