Book Review: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Okay all you bookworms, I got a little something for you. I only do book reviews when I really think the book deserved to be buzzed about (or if it was so awful that I don’t think any human should read it, ever.) But The Miniaturist definitely deserves to be buzzed about!

My first take on it was just how refreshing it was to read! Within the sea of newly published print that are piled up in Waterstones, WH Smith and are top selling on Amazon – Burton’s book stood out to me. Okay, you know the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’? – (C’mon I know we all do it) and I’ll admit I did that with this one, it was Waterstones’ whole ‘limited edition book cover’ and the ‘exclusive only at Waterstones’ promotions that got me – and I was bloody glad it did! It’s a rare gem that is beautiful inside and out, Burton’s writing style is reminiscent of the classical greats, yet the modern twists of language and its fluidity when telling the story is what makes it unique.

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It is a pretty looking cover, right?

So, now about the actual story….

Burton takes us back all the way to the year 1686, Amsterdam and with the year and setting this story immediately oozes a uniqueness and quality that other recent publications lack. Although the story is written in English the thing that makes it different is the Amsterdam-ian phrases that Burton slips into the story when talking about a certain type of food or dress, it brings the culture of the setting alive!

The reader is viewing this world through the eyes of our protagonist, the very young Petronella as we witness the way she adjust to her newly married life and the complications she also has been married to. We are whisked back to the very old, highly religious and traditional ways of society where there are clear divisions of those that are prestigious and the paupers. The characters Burton has created live in a world we are not familiar with, we gain a taste of the harshness of the real world yet it offers a hint of a fairy-tale –  from evil sister in-laws to slaves and secrets, it’s constantly full of surprises! It made me go ‘WHAT!?’ a couple of times with a few gasps and once maybe I think I was like ‘NOOOO’ whilst my jaw had dropped for a few pages. So yeah, the perfect page-turner and in my opinion, a modern classic.

And I suppose that’s all I can really say without giving it all away!

If you’ve already read it and loved it as much as I did – or maybe you hated it, its not everybody cup of tea – but I’d still love to hear your opinions!  😉 And recommendations for reads are always in need, so please give me some! Need something to escape from my uni reading list!

Bookworm out!

 

The Valley of Vines

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A little dose of magic..

Lately I have been engulfed by the fantasy world of Princes, Princesses, Evil Sorcerers and Dragon’s, so much that I have even been dreaming about it – I’m not complaining though! And after watching and re-watching movies from my childhood (Peter Pan being my all time favourite, greatest line opener to – ‘All children grow up, except one.’) they all merged together and influenced me to write something that will hopefully open up the beauty your imagination brought to you as a child. Do you believe in fairy-tales?

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She was chosen as a leader, the one with courage that never boasts and she sensed the danger of the land to be threatened by new hosts.

 Her silver hair and stony glare had lain upon a Prince so brave, just and fair. He must take control and save the land, but with a weakened soul and his trembling hand, a stronger force was needed from those with the ability to float.

‘You must go to them my Prince,’ she proposed ‘you must go to meet the Ghosts.’

 With a gaping mouth and widened eyes the Prince rose with fright and surprise, he wiped his good hand across his forehead and whispered,

But surely my lady the Ghosts would want us dead?’ With an icy grip upon his shoulder, the Lady with a grin pleaded the Prince to

‘Serve his land’ through lips so tight and thin. A fire roared silently in the corner of the room, it coughed and hissed and spit, as her steel hand compelled him slowly, to sit. With a wince he spoke so low and discreet,

What am I to do?’

She replies,

‘The Quest is simple my sweet, we are in search of a clue. The Valley of Vines is where all the answers lay, to the Ghosts who know all that is true. Time is precious so you must not delay our people are depending on you.’

 So the Prince, with great haste mounted his horse and began to ride for the woods that bloomed so wild. The Valley of Vines hidden in the dead of the wood surrounded by stonewalls that consisted of the stale scent of blood.

 In the thicket of the forest he continued on foot. The wood was alive with mischief, tricks and elves in search of loot. The staggered breathing of the Dragons, deep in their slumber led the Prince to tiptoe to the Iron Gate too high to crawl up or clamber.

 ‘Hello!’ He shouted, but no one was in sight when a sudden blast emerged and his body took flight! The Earth met his back and with a grunt and a curse he found the mighty iron open and through it he quickly dispersed.

 An eerie chill overcame the Prince, a flashback led to his withered hand; he violently flinched away from the cool air that pinched his skin so grand. About him the vines hung, giant and thick lingering like venomous snakes with their teeth ready to sink. Further ahead was a clearing in which a stone throne was placed. The pain in his hand began searing as he prepared for what he was about to face.

 The rock of the chair was smooth, with twisted vines wrapped around it like mothers protecting their youth. The Prince sat, his body rigid and cold, the presence of the Ghosts was strong, but a single one he could not behold.

I have a message from the Queen’ his voice was an icy gasp, if only one would allow itself to be seen then the sudden thought daunted that this was a trap!

The plant snaked and slithered about his waist, it tightened and squeezed until it was blood in his mouth that he could taste. No limbs would function; his arms lay in a state of paralysis preventing any discussion, his head has sunken. Frostbitten vines wrapped him up to endure a fate of frozen solitude, a handsome statue for all to view the consequences of treason, and what the Queen would do to you.


Hope you enjoyed it!

P.S. My sister and I went for a little nature trail (when I say ‘little’ I mean a six mile walk round some nature gardens! As I walked around the place I found began to find the surroundings more and more magical, the whole setting also tied in perfectly with The Valley of Vines. So stay tuned for my next post because it will be all about our adventure out there, spoiler alert: to continue with the fairy-tale theme, it involves some kissing of frogs! And some nature/landscape photography by yours truly!

Teaser for what is about to come – Deep into the woods we go…

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