Book Review/Buddy Read – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

 There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

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?

Kiera

This book was a bit stop/start for me. Some chapters flew by and others moved at a snail’s pace. I think it is important to say from the start that I really enjoyed reading this, especially as a buddy read. There were lots of mysteries to uncover and it was a lot of fun trying to figure out what they were with Laura as we read.

This book is beautifully written and Jessie Burton is a magician with words! Even when we had things figured out she would switch things up and leave me convinced we were wrong. It almost felt like slight of hand. She had me looking right while things were happening over on the left. While I was reading I did find it a bit confusing, and found myself reading the same paragraph a few times, just to make sure I was aware of what was going on. You do see through the smoke and mirrors by the end though, and it’s really quite clever.

I really liked the characters on the whole. They all had their flaws (by the time periods standards) and unfortunately for them they were exploited by those trying to gain from them.

I was slightly disappointed by one of the threads of the storyline. It really felt unfinished and I find that frustrating. I would be really interested to hear what you thought about it. If you’ve read it let us know!

 

Laura

First of all, how gorgeous is this book? I have the hardback version, and from the sleeve to the blue edges to the pages it’s absolutely beautiful.

The story almost reads like poetry; each sentence is a tiny little masterpiece and it all comes together in an emotive and, at times, very creepy tale. The time period and landscape was unfamiliar to me (my knowledge of Dutch history is rather lacking), but the writing is so descriptive I was right there with Nella and Marin in the freezing cold house in Amsterdam.

As Kiera said, the plot twists and turns, and there were more than a couple of *gasp* moments. You’re never quite sure where the story is going to take you, and it keeps you gripped until the last couple of chapters, where it all feels a tiny bit rushed. There are a number of individual character story lines running through the book, and most are tied up quite neatly – no unnecessary cliffhangers here people – but there is one (that arguably might be the most significant) which seems to come to a dead end. Unless we both missed an important plot twist somewhere.

Reading a book with Kiera has been really interesting. We chatted about it every 100 pages or so, and drew some similar and some very different conclusions. I think a Buddy Read is a great idea – it’s amazing how two people can read the same book and pick up on different things.

I’d totally recommend this book, it covers a host of genres – historical fiction, crime and even a hint of the supernatural, so there is something for everyone. Considering this is Jessie Burton’s debut, I think it could quite easily become a modern classic.

 

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