Thank you to Hodder for sending us copies in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Over the past year or so, I have to admit I have been struggling with fantasy. Perhaps due to reading so much fantasy over the years and it has gotten to the point where I compare them all heavily. However, when this book popped onto my radar and I saw that it was marketed as a LGBTQ romantic fantasy, I was immediately interested. I then realised my problem with a lot of fantasy is its lack of diversity and I was excited to get that spark of interest and excitement back with this one.
To summarise, I loved this book and my perhaps one and only complaint is that it’s quite short – especially considering it’s a fantasy novel. However, seeing as it’s a first in a duology, it makes a lot of sense and also helped in the book not being too bulky or heavy with information. A stand out in this novel was definitely the writing – both poetic and hard hitting. Marie doesn’t just show you a magical world, she weaves the magic throughout her writing which made it a joy to read. Although the world-building isn’t as descriptive as a lot of other fantasy books, it worked for the characters whose personalities shone through the page. Both Nirrim and Sid’s voices, as well as a lot of other female characters, were heard loud and clear which made me love the novel even more.
Our main character, Nirrim goes on a journey in this book alone – fighting against a troubled past and a lot of naivety and vulnerability that has stemmed from that. She is of course also coming to terms with her sexuality when she meets Sid, in a world where same sex relationships are only somewhat accepted. I love that she’s a fighter but in a very subtle way and I love how her skills have allowed her to traverse in a cruel world. Sid is a delight and I can’t go much into her character without spoilers but she is definitely an interesting take on her trope. She’s a character who I cannot wait to see fanart for.
The relationship in this book between Nirrim and Sid is a slow-burner but at the perfect speed for me – I loved the playfulness between them as well as the flirting and the classic, ‘we totally do not have feelings for each other’ bit.’ It’s a very sweet romance and I can’t wait to see how Marie develops it into the next novel.
The standout was perhaps the very large cliffhanger that left my mouth hanging open – one that even if you weren’t 100% invested in the story, you’d still have to read the sequel just to see what happens next. It’s impactful and heartbreaking and you just know it’s going to cause a lot of conflict and I’m both excited and terrified to see how it plays out.
Overall, I really loved this novel – from the writing, to the characters, magic system, plot – just everything. I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a character-driven fantasy with a beautiful f/f romance and a lot of twists and turns.
I’ve been so excited for this book for such a long time, and after receiving a proof copy from Hodderscape, I’m so glad to say it didn’t disappoint!
Angharad has already said a lot about this book that I fully agree with, but I do need to gush about it just a bit as well!
The Midnight Lie follows Nirrim, a girl from the lower class area of her city who’s just trying to keep her head down and not get in trouble with the authorities. When she finds herself in trouble and meets Sid, a mysterious traveller who she can’t help but be drawn to, she starts to ask questions about the world she lives in and the way things are which she’s accepted as normal for most of her life.
I was living for the slow burn romance between Nirrim and Sid, as well as the lush writing style reminiscent from Marie Rutkoski’s Winners Trilogy. It was so easy for me to picture their vastly different lives, where they were from, and the events that unfolded because of how rich the storytelling and world building was. Not only that, but the magic system was so unique and it was just so refreshing not to be reading the same magical story recycled over again. The ending definitely took a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming and it’s left me craving the sequel.
I loved Nirrim’s character development throughout, and definitely felt as though it was more of her coming out of the shell she’d built up to keep herself safe than her actually changing. I can’t wait to see her continued development in the next book!
Lots of Love,
Angharad & Becky