When eighteen year old Nella joins the household of her new husband, Johannes, in Amsterdam, she finds that marriage is not at all what she expected. She barely sees Johannes and finds it impossible to please his frosty sister, Marin. To provide her with distraction, Johannes buys Nella a dolls house – a perfect replica of their house but in miniature. Although initially dismissive of the gift, as Nella struggles to fulfil her new role as wife to a man that is never there, nor interested and fails in a power struggle with Marin to run the household, she sets about decorating her house. And so she engages the Miniaturist, a mysterious artisan who makes exquisite miniatures to furnish the house. However, there is something eerie about the miniatures in their uncanny resemblance to things the miniaturist has never seen and can’t possibly know. Soon Nella realises that the miniatures that keep arriving unbidden forewarn of danger to her family, like a prophecy. Just who is the mysterious miniaturist? And can Nella and Johannes survive the danger that her gifts predict?
The Miniaturist was an intriguing read that had me hooked from the start. The setting of 17th century Amsterdam is quite beguiling and Jessie Burton weaves a dark and dangerous web that is hard not to get caught up in. Despite the promising start however, there are a number of plot holes that prevented this being a truly amazing book and I found it quite hard to believe the relationships between the characters. As I mentioned, there is a lot of darkness and mystery in the plot, but I don’t feel that enough was ever really resolved, leaving the ending quite unsatisfying. And although the plot was deeply absorbing, it kind of felt like it went round in circles at times towards the end, with no real resolution. I guess I was expecting some kind of magic, which never quite materialised. Still, an enjoyable, easy read for my first review of 2015!