on March 3, 2020
Genres: Diversity, Fantasy & Magic, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
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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’ve been looking forward to a new book from Marie Rutkoski for a long time and I have some mixed feelings about The Midnight Lie. It’s set in Herrath, an island that sits in the same world as The Winner’s Trilogy and, while I loved being back in the same world and hearing mentions of some of the characters who I’ve come to love, The Midnight Lie didn’t bring out the same excitement in me as The Winner’s Trilogy. There were many subtle similarities in the plot and characters of between the two and I just didn’t think that it was done as well this time around. However, there were still many things that I enjoyed about it, including the F/F romance.
It’s a midnight lie… a kind of lie told for someone else’s sake, a lie that sits between goodness and wrong, just as midnight is the moment between night and morning.
The Midnight Lie has a strict class system, made up of Half-Kith, Middlings and High Kith. Throughout the book, we follow Nirrim, a Half-Kith baker who works at a tavern in the Ward, where all of the Half-Kith live and are never allowed to leave. Half-Kith are forced to dress plainly in neutral colours and to eat plain foods that are never very sweet, tangy or bitter. They live extremely poorly and can be sent to prison by councilmen for the smallest of things. Once in prison, they are forced to tithe something that belongs to them: from blood, to hair and eyelashes, to body parts. Nirrim has always managed to avoid getting into trouble, despite what she gets up to in her spare time. But one day, she meets a strange traveler who tells her that the High Kith of Herrath have magic and Nirrim can’t help but be tempted to seek out the truth for herself.
I really enjoyed Nirrim’s character. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve just really gotten into bread making lately… She was simultaneously brave and timid, sassy and submissive, and I really loved watching her grow throughout the book. She’s definitely a character that I felt connected with from the very start of the book and she made it much easier for me to connect with the plot. I also absolutely loved Sid, who provided a great contrast to Nirrim. Sid was vivacious and it was so easy to fall in love with Sid. The two of them together made a great pair and I absolutely cannot wait to see what happens next.
I also liked the world, even though it’s definitely nothing new. There are many books with these sorts of caste systems (including The Winner’s Trilogy itself) and I’ve certainly read about many other worlds that were similar to the Ward. However, what made the Ward special were the characters that inhabited it – from Harver, the printer of books, to the girls who live with Nirrim at the tavern. Even Nirrim’s abusive guardian, Raven, was an interesting character that made the Ward stand out.
The plot was probably what let the book down a little for me. The pacing of the book was extremely slow for the first 75% of the book, where we were just getting to know the characters and the world. It was a very slow build up of the plot and it was difficult for me to see where it was going until things were revealed in the last little bit of the novel. I didn’t find the book to be as gripping as The Winner’s Trilogy and found my attention wavering a little bit. It lacked the political intrigue that made The Winner’s Trilogy exciting and, although the magical aspects of the book were captivating, it wasn’t really keeping me in the book until I got to the end of it. And what an ending it was! I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next and will definitely be picking up the sequel because I really need to know!
What The Midnight Lie lacked in plot and pacing, it made up for in the characters. I loved Nirrim as a main character and enjoyed her relationships with the other characters in the book. I’m excited to see what happens next in the series and I can’t wait to see how the romance in the book develops.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to Hachette Australia for providing a review copy of the book.
The Midnight Lie is now available at all Australia retailers for $19.99 RRP.
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