This exquisite historical debut pitches naive young bride Nella Oortman into the heart of the Brandt household, rich merchants in 17th-century Amsterdam.
Her husband is older, handsome, and strangely disinterested in his new wife; his sister, Marin, is austere, but with a hidden sensual life; and the servants are keeping secrets of their own. Burton conjures up a vivid sense of unease, where nothing is quite as it seems.
As Nella begins to unlock the mysteries of her new home, her wedding gift – a cabinet-sized replica of their home furnished with tiny figures – eerily begins to mirror real life, illuminating the dangerous dramas being played out behind closed doors.
Mesmerising and suspenseful, Nella’s story deals with themes like obsession, perception and truth, and brilliantly describes how she learns to be the mistress of her own destiny in a constrained, claustrophobic world. Unmissable.
The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton is published by Picador and costs £12.99