Book Review: The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski ★★★

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I started to turn from the poems, then paused before a page almost entirely white, with only a few bare black words.

Gold-sandaled dawn

Fell like a thief

Upon me

I wondered what kind of night was so precious that when morning came it felt as if you had been robbed, as if what you wanted most had been cut from you like a bloody tithe.

I had never had a night worth stealing.”

My first Goodreads giveaway win!! Heck yeah! I was so super excited for this book when I first heard about it, because the author’s Winner’s Trilogy is one of my all-time favorite YA fantasy series. When I won an ARC of The Midnight Lie, I was ecstatic! I knew I had to read it right away. This one comes out in March.

While I did really enjoy this story, it’s LGBTQ+ romance, and the author’s writing, there were a few things that I felt were just a bit lacking. Overall, a very nice start to a new duology and I gave it 3 stars.

*Some spoilers at the end of the review*

So I was not aware going into this story that it was set in the same world as the Winner’s Trilogy, but it is! It is a completely different setting, however, and the connections to the Winner’s Trilogy do not come to light until near the end of the book. I definitely got some Hunger Games and Caraval vibes in certain parts of the story here.

Throughout the book, we are following Nirrim, a nineteen year old bread maker who often experiences strange hallucinations around the city and has a difficult time distinguishing reality. She resides in the Ward, a walled off section of the island she lives on, where the poor and “unworthy” Half-Kith are forced to live. The Middling get to live in nicer quarters in between the Ward and the main capitol, and then the High Kith live in a the fanciful, rich, and magical capitol.

Nirrim begins to question her role in life and the reality of her situation, when she is unfairly taken to prison for something she did not do. There she meets Sid, a cavalier traveler who ran away from home to explore Nirrim’s hidden island. And search for magic within it.

Thus begins the story of Nirrim really looking beyond what she has been told her whole life, about how things are and why and who gets what. She starts to truly see everything around her and come to understand herself and the world she lives in. Along the way, she learns to trust herself and not just blindly accept the lies that have been told to her all her life.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I think the concept was very interesting, but I didn’t know much going in and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It didn’t unravel exactly like I thought it would. It was rather slow in a lot of parts and the central mystery surrounding the island/city and Nirrim herself, was kind of put on the backburner a lot of the time in favor of focusing on the romance between Sid and Nirrim (not a spoiler; that’s pretty much in the synopsis). I love a good charcter driven story and a good romance being built, but this did seem to drag a little bit in the end. Nothing really happened other than Sid flirting with Nirrim and Nirrim thinking that something was amiss in her world. Parts of the story got a tad boring and seemed just a little bit generic/tropey.

The romance itself was good; it was charming and felt organic. Sid is very confident in her sexuality, but Nirrim has to confront and untangle her own feelings. In her world, same sex relationships are not allowed. However, this rule never really impacts how Nirrim feels about Sid. She questions being attracted to another woman at first, because she is not sure how she really feels, but once she admits to herself that the does want to be with Sid, she never dwells on the fact that her world thinks it’s “wrong.” This was really refreshing. The romance was, however, very fast paced. It starts out as lust and then rushes full on into (in my opinion) insta love. This is very different from the mega slow burn romance we got in the Winner’s Trilogy, which I personally enjoy much more. I love that this was a female female romance, though, and it felt very natural, authentic, and full of chemistry.

The characters in general were a bit hard for me to connect to. I never really felt completely invested in their stories, which did hinder my enjoyment a little bit. I think Nirrim as a protagonist was okay. She was pretty naive for most of the book, so it was interesting to see her pull the wool from her eyes, so o speak. Her relationship with Raven, her “guardian” for most of her life, was quite compelling. It was such a good representation of abuse, physical and emotional, and manipulation, and how a victim of such things can be completely warped into thinking that everything is fine. That part was handled very well, I thought, and I am interested to see how that plays out in the next book. All of the other characters felt decent. They were written for their roles, but never really stood out to me beyond that.

The writing itself was gorgeous. I love the author’s style of writing and her voice. She is slightly lyrical and whimsical with her descriptions. She unfolds her worlds and their lore over time, so you are not quite in the know right away. She is delicate with her information, which makes it that much more mysterious and captivating to read. The beginning here was just a little confusing, though, partly because everyone’s names all sounded the same at first and partly because the world really wasn’t explained at all until later in book. When you did learn about it, the things that were revealed were really rather gruesome and unsettling, moreso than I was expecting given the lighter tone the novel was taking. The hidden horrors behind the sparkling High Kith city were creepy and well done.

The ending was very unexpected for me. I do not want to spoil it, but it definitely ends in a way that I did not see coming. I am not sure how it will play out or how I feel about it, but it is for sure a cliffhanger! I will be picking up the next book to see what happens.

Spoilers: I really dislike when authors return to a world after the fact and mess with already established, well-loved characters from previous books. Especially if they are going to then paint them in a bad light! Why do that to the characters we love?? It makes no sense to me. I didn’t know going in that this book was connected to the Winner’s Trilogy, so when they started talking about the king and queen of Herran, I had to look it up to check. If that is who Sid was talking about and she is Kestrel and Arrin’s daughter, then I really don’t like the things that were being said about them. I can’t imagine that Kestrel would force her daughter into a straight marriage, if that is not what she wanted. I don’t think Roshar would force her either, being gay himself. And I really don’t think Arrin would just sit idealy by and not have any sort of say in the matter. I also don’t believe that Kestrel and Arrin would have taken the throne and then let the country remain corrupt. Sid said they are nice to their people but “could have changed things and didn’t.” She said they are not to be crossed. I don’t know, just none of this sounds like the two characters that I love and I will be really disappointed if this is how the author has chosen to write them now. It left a bad taste in my mouth and, honestly, took away a little bit of my pleasure in reading this story.

Overall, though, it was a solid, enjoyable new book from a great fantasy author and I would recommend checking it out when it is released!! I will certainly be grabbing the sequel, too, when that is written.

I gave you a scar like Sid’s before, didn’t I? Just like a tiger!

Is this on anyone’s Most Anticipated list?

Thanks for reading!

Title: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1)
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Genre: Fantasy | Romance | New Adult | Young Adult | Companion Novel | LGBTQ+
Publication Date: March 3rd, 2020
Page Count: 368 pages
Buy It: Wordery Book Depository

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