Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Bought from my local indie bookstore.
Published: August 2014
Publisher: Ecco
Amazon - Goodreads

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.

You know you're buying an awesome book when the cashier goes "Oh! I've been wanting to read this one!" I loved The Miniaturist, it was just so interesting! The setting was perfect and the overall haunting feeling of the book is beautifully mysterious. I love books that are so much more than words on a page and I felt like with The Miniaturist there was meaning between the lines.

The Miniaturist is set in 17th century Amsterdam and follows a young bride named Nella who just moved to a new city to live with her older and secretive husband, Johannes. Their marriage was quick so Nella really had no idea what she was getting into, like how his sister would be living with them and that he would rarely be around. Everyone in the house is very closed off and Nella wants to know the secrets of the house and the people that live there.

I was sucked back in time so easily. Burton had a way of describing Nella's surroundings in a way that didn't feel forced. Since most of the time Nella is experiencing places for the first time while your reading, it makes the descriptions that much more enjoyable. 

All of the characters play an important role and are so well-developed. I really enjoyed watching Nella grow and take responsibility for her life. I found her to be a really interesting character and I loved reading about her story.

I loved the mystery that was the miniaturist. It added an eerie feeling to the story that I couldn't resist. 

I've been struggling with trying to comprehend my thoughts for this book because the overall feeling is indescribable. The perfect mix of mystery, suspense, 17th century Netherlands and Nella's odd situation was just so addictive. I felt like The Miniaturist took me fully into Nella's world with Burton's lyrical writing and suspenseful plot.


  1. I like the sound of the historical fiction in this novel, I'm glad you enjoyed it though! The cover looks amazing. <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections