I was recommended this book by a co-worker and as it was highly praised I was really excited to get into it.
I didn’t like this book much and I’m afraid this is going to be something of a rant. I don’t often write these because generally if I don’t like a book I tend to leave it off halfway. Not much to tell then. But sometimes you give the book a chance and hope that it will get better in the next 20 pages, 50 pages, 200 pages. And when it doesn’t, what you have on your hands is an irritated reader.
While The Miniaturist was certainly well written, something I look for and appreciate in a book, I didn’t like the story much. I thought the idea of it was very interesting and done right it could have been made mysterious or even alarmingly creepy. I thought the book struggled with these two concepts; there was suspense but before the air of mystery could sink in and take root, it was replaced with something else. The book tried to portray the miniaturist as an unnerving, nameless woman simply on the basis of a few sudden, random sightings and instant vaporization thereafter. I found the miniaturist frustrating and not the least bit frightening. Nor did I connect much with most of the other characters.
Marin was the only character I liked; she was smart, ambitious and valued her independence enough to go against society norms of what a woman ought and ought not to do. Very laudable. That is, before her story undertook such a turn I near threw the book away in frustration. The protagonist was a fearful little child who took far too much time to see what was right beneath her nose. Otto – really, was there even any need of him? Other than the obvious complication he created? I detest the waste of a perfectly good character. I like it when the characters are so well developed and driven that their motives, actions and personal agendas decide the course of the book and not as helpless bystanders in the face of an upcoming tide.
I also felt the book left a lot of things unexplained. The parakeet, the mystery of the miniaturist, the markings on the miniatures. There was a decided unfinished quality to the story. I’ll admit the book surprised me a couple of times, with the unusual twists in the plot. That was refreshing and renewed my interest but they were too few of these instances. More often than not I found myself cringing at the newest development and wondering why I continued to read it.