Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, Marie Rutkoski's The Midnight Lie is an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us―and the lies we tell ourselves. 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 Kith possess 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.
The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie, #1)Featured
Nirrim is Half-Kith and has rarely questioned her lot in life. She lives with an abusive woman, who frequently lashes out in violence and uses Nirrim for her gifts of memory to forge documents. Nirrim's world changes when she is arrested and finds that the prisoner next to her is fascinating and fascinated in her. This prisoner is also a traveler- something completely unheard of and seemingly impossible- from the world beyond the island that Nirrim has always known. This other prisoner sets Nirrim on a course of questioning her world and looking for answers to the questions she had always kept suppressed.
What I loved: This world pulls you in right from the start with descriptions that unfold beautifully to create a unique and dangerous new world. Nirrim is an interesting character. She has suffered terribly through her upbringing and it has caused some dissociation that allows her to be both within this world and outside of it. There are some interesting themes here about wealth, right/wrong, and the rippling effects of lies (small to large lies).
I also really love the romance that develops between Nirrim and a woman, Sid. It was beautiful and adds a fantastic element to the story, complementing the larger storylines. It is woven so entirely into the plot that they are both necessary to have, and I love when romance is so well done like this.
I would add warnings for child and domestic abuse, child neglect, drug use/abuse (tertiary characters, mainly), sexual abuse (from another character involving the main character, along the lines of power dynamics and expectations), and some disturbing themes around the tithes (the ways that peoples bodies are used for others).
Final verdict: Completely engrossing and beautifully crafted, THE MIDNIGHT LIE is a fantastic read. I will be highly anticipating future books in this series. Would recommend for fans of Alexandra Christo, Rosaria Mundo, Sabaa Tahir, and Rutkowski's other books.