Review: The Miniaturist

Title: The Miniaturist
Author: Jessie Burton
Published: August 26, 2014
Pages: 400
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“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.

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed The Miniaturist. I’m not well versed in historical fiction since I haven’t dabbled in it a lot, but I had a lot of fun with this. I know that personally I felt that the pace was a bit slow at times and I’m pretty sure that this can be a turn off for some people, but personally it made me relax and really take in the story. I never felt incredibly rushed or jittery to finish the story. I felt that I could go at my own pace. The fact that I was able to relax so well made me give this book a better review; I love books that just let me read slowly without feeling like I’m being left in the dust.

Nella for the most part is treated as kind of an outsider looking in, and that’s how I felt the entire time as a reader. I never felt like I was a part of the story because Nella herself is never fully introduced to the household or welcomed in a warm way until near the end of the book, so most of the time she gives us readers a really objective view of the story. She asks the same questions I ask and, even though we never found the answers, Nella felt extremely relatable because of it. The one downside of it was that I never felt a strong attachment to any of the characters. I did care if someone lived or died but I never felt heartbroken over it. It was a strange feeling, but I know how that can also turn some people off of the book, but I felt like it was a fun experience being a fly on the wall.

This book also touches on really heavy topics for Medieval/Gothic Europe’s setting. I’m not going to list them because spoilers, but I commend the author for putting it in. It gave the story a lot more depth and it showed the great hypocrisy that flourished around the time inside the church. I had no idea that this book was going to touch on such heavy topics that are still prevalent today. It was so refreshing.

Another thing that I was completely okay with, but I know people are going to have issues with are the loose endings. There are only a couple questions answered at the end of the book. I liked the open ending because it felt so right for the book. It felt really inviting and it made me want Nella to have better things come to her in her life in Amsterdam, but I know that people are going to be irritated about the lack of answers. For instance, you find out who the miniaturist is, but you never see Nella interact with them face to face… like at all. So if you’re not a huge fan of that kind of stuff, you might not like the ending and it can make or break the book for you.

TL;DR

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a great historical fiction novel that has that relaxing mundane feeling, but also the really good intrigue of a mystery novel. If you’re a fan of open endings, full sail ahead, if not–I might not pick this book up just yet.
I liked The Miniaturist, what other historical fiction novels should I read?
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