The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski
Title: The Midnight Lie
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Published Date: March 3rd 2020
Length: 368 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, YA, Young Adult, LGBTQIA
Rating: 4.25 /5
Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.
Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.
But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.
Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.
I have a feeling that I have committed a bookish sin by reading this book first because it’s based off on a world that’s in the author’s other series. I admit that I mostly requested this book because it sounded pretty awesome on its own and the cover is to die for. I should also note that my enjoyment wasn’t at all deterred because of my lack of knowledge of the previous trilogy. So that’s one great point in its favour, don’t you think?
Let’s move to the actual book itself. The book starts with establishing the world that the character lives in. Herrath, a country with a fairly (or rather unfairly) rigid class system. It has High Kith, Half Kith, Middlings and Un-Kith. By their names, it’s not very hard to understand what social strata each one belongs, right? It’s not quite like that? High Kith do enjoy all things anyone from a higher class enjoys, the Middlings are the ones who are free (“Free”) to roam between the borders of High Kith and Middling, and are mostly middle class people and Half-Kith are the lowest on the totem pole who are despised but not quite to the level where they are killed off. Un-Kith is a mystery I will let you solve for yourself.
Nirrim, the main character, is a Half-Kith who’s worked hard pretty much all her life in the Ward (Ward is where all the Half-Kiths are to live, no exceptions) and she has this tiny problem sometimes of distinguishing what is real and what is not. She also has a way of remembering things, it’s a bothersome gift and she has to keep it a secret. One day, she’s doing her regular chores when she decides to do something right and then is accused of committing a crime.
This is where Nirrim’s world starts to change. She meets Sid, a traveler, a fellow prisoner and someone who can’t help but flirt all the freaking time. It is Sid who truly makes it obvious to Nirrim that there’s something wrong with the way her ‘motherly’ someone has been emotionally abusing her all this time. It is Sid who really lights the fire of curiosity in Nirrim’s mind. Why are the Half-Kith not allowed to leave the Ward? Why are they not to enjoy so many things in life? Why such a decisive division between classes? Why are there never any travelers from other country?
Sid also gives her an opportunity to see the world from a different point and it is so good to see that Nirrim isn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. Nirrim is such a good character, she’s suffered emotional abuse and it shows in various ways throughout the book. She’s a bit passive, not too fond of leaping into the fray and thinking later. She’s a worrier and she’s acting according to her teachings which are hard to shake off. It was good to see that emotional abuse can leave scars of a different kind and they were just as horrible.
The romance was fairly surprisingly well done. I say that because most of the time, as far as LGBT romance is concerned, it’s either focused on the coming out part or they are too chaste about it. Especially for F/F romance. However in this one, it’s dealt sort of realistically? In that, it can happen fast and full of banter and laughter and casual touches too. It was obvious, there were no gray areas and there was nothing too dull about the romance either. So I was very happy about it.
Now, let’s come to the side characters. I loved the side characters from the gentle Annin to the made tougher by her trauma, Morah to the ‘motherly’ Raven. All the characters were so well done. I was then charmed by Sid. Sidarine. She’s cocky, she’s absolutely not perfect and she’s very firm in what she believes in. There are so many issues that she’s battling, mostly parental ones. Her insecurities are something she openly makes fun of, I guess, so that nobody else will. In any case, in her own way, Sid won my heart but I think as far as this story is concerned, Nirrim still has my heart. Completely.
Overall, the world building well done, the side characters have their own lives and live with their brand of traumas and principles, the main characters are great. The writing was lovely and engaging. It was so beautiful at times that I had to pause and take a breath or two before I read further. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA/ fantasy/ lgbt romance or all of those things. The ending though, I want the next installment right now, if possible. Who knew there was there was something to stop my heart at the end? NOT ME.