I’m always glad when I read a book that has had a lot of hype and it’s actually worth all the bother. There’s such a lot of hype out there. Anyway, The Miniaturist was such a book – an atmospheric tale of secrets that seeped through the house and family like damp from the Amsterdam canals.
The House of Fortune is a sequel to The Miniaturist and is not one of those sequels that you can read without the original. We return, 18 years after the end of the first book, to the house on the Herengracht to find that (spoiler alert for the first book) Marin’s baby, Thea is now eighteen years old. Her aunt Nella and her father are considering her future: her aunt has worked hard to restore the family’s reputation and considers a good marriage to be the best solution for them all. Her father Otto does not agree but times are hard, he has lost his job and they are running out of treasures inside the house to sell. He tentatively looks at a plan to grow tropical fruit using Nella’s family land on the marshes, against Nella’s wishes.
Thea has a plan of her own. An avid theatre fan, she has fallen in love with a set painter and betrothes herself to him. But one day she receives a box containing a miniature figure of her lover. Who has made this? How did they know?
And so we are launched back into the secretive, gossiping world of seventeenth century Amsterdam where reputation and riches court each other and shun others. Has the Miniaturist returned? What does she know of their lives? Can they secure their fortune and fully restore their reputation, tarnished by events in the first book?
Sequels are usually problematic and for me, can have the power to ruin the original. Luckily this isn’t the case here. Burton brings us back into the world of her debut novel deftly as if we haven’t been away. While I don’t think this book is as intricately plotted as the first book, it is nevertheless still a captivating story. I liked what the intervening years had done to Nella – she had shades of Marin about her as she went about her business, while Thea is a bright spark against the secretive damp dark world of Dutch intrigue. If you liked the first book, this is a guaranteed enjoyable read.
The House of Fortune is published on 7 July 2022 by Macmillan. Thanks to Netgalley for my advance review copy.