The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges encapsulates a story that stretches across generations and explores all the ways love and loss can affect us, with a mystery steeped in magical realism.
I love stories that incorporate magical realism because it makes all of my childhood dreams feel a little more tangible. The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is one such story, and I am grateful for the winding paths this book took me down.
Myra Malone is, by definition, a recluse. She is a 34-year-old woman who barely leaves her house, though she impacts the lives of thousands of people every day through her website where she posts pictures and writes stories about the little house she inherited from her step-grandmother.
And before you ask—no, it’s not a dollhouse. It’s a mansion, with hidden secrets that even Myra herself doesn’t fully understand. Rooms disappear and reappear at random. Music plays from its hidden depths. Furniture moves as though a tiny, invisible force is redecorating on a whim.
This might say more about me than Myra, but I found her all too easy to relate to. After a childhood accident left her scared (and, if we’re being honest, even before that), she hesitates to leave the house. Everything she loves is contained within those four walls, and she has complete control over her space and time. The fear she feels at the idea of venturing out into the great unknown—even if it’s just her backyard—is something I can understand.
The mansion is her entire life. She understands it in a way that she can’t put into words, even if she doesn’t always know the reasons behind its actions. In a strange way, this is an unknown factor that she is comfortable living with. She has spent her entire life taking care of the mansion, and now it’s also taking care of her.
Myra’s one friend in the entire world is Gwen, and she’s as different from Myra as night and day. Gwen is a loud and ambitious extrovert who waltzed into Myra’s life when they were kids and straight up told her they were friends now. It was exactly what Myra needed, and that friendship has lasted right up into their thirties.
Gwen saw a business opportunity in the miniscule mansion, and within Myra’s parameters, she has turned it into an online sensation. Thousands of people wait with bated breath for Myra’s updates, even going so far as to replicate the mansion’s style in their own homes.
This is how Alex Rakes comes across the site. He works for his family’s custom furniture business, a job he hates in a field he admires, and one day, a pair of customers introduce him to the minuscule mansion. It comes as a shock that what he sees on the website reflects his own life. He lives in the real mansion. Its furniture is the same furniture in his home. There are connections here that can’t be real, and yet they are.
At this point in the story, the reader has been clued into the fact that the mansion is more than just a toy. We have also realized that some of Myra’s custom creations have appeared in the real world. But while we can see the threads that connect these two people, we are too close to view the whole tapestry. The history of the mansion—both minuscule and full-size—has yet to be unraveled.
Alex gets into contact with Myra, and from here, the story unfolds in earnest. I keep these articles as spoiler-free as possible, and this Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone book review will be no different, but suffice it to say that the full story is worth the wait. The end of this book made me cry, and I don’t regret a single moment I spent flipping through its pages.
There is a romantic element to this story, and the way Audrey Burges ties these two characters together was as real as it was magical. I’ve read a romance novel or two in my life, but the shy way Alex and Myra circle each other gave me the most intense butterflies. The first moment they actually speak had me grinning ear to ear, and every time they had to overcome another obstacle, my stomach was in knots. I have not been this invested in a relationship in such a long time, and it was a breath of fresh air.
One of the most interesting aspects of this book was how its scope broadened over time. At first, we only have chapters from Myra’s point of view, some of which are present day and others from when she was a child. Next, Alex gets thrown into the mix, and we experience the mansion from another angle. And then another perspective joins these two, and we go even further back in time to learn about the history of this home that has captivated so many—friends and strangers alike.
There is a big story contained within these pages, one that spans across generations. As much as the magic adds an extra sparkle to these pages, the true heart of The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is held in the hands of two families, forever connected. Love and loss are an inevitable part of life, and they are hallmarks of this book. But even as some lives fade from our world, new ones take their place. When I finished the final page, I found a comfortable truth in the words hope springs eternal.
‘The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone’ hit store shelves on January 24, 2023
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