**I received a manuscript from a giveaway from the publisher. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: The Midnight Lie (The Midnight Lie #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2020
My Rating: 5 stars
Rep: wlw protagonist, lesbian love interest/side character
Summary: 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.
But it would be a lie, I had said to Raven . . . I didn’t like lying. It was hard for me to tell what was real. Lies made it worse.
It is a midnight lie, she said.
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.
Or a lie that is not technically false, like a misleading truth.
When I got back from this vacation to this manuscript in the mail, I actually dropped it and gasped. I really was not expecting it (and honestly forgot that I entered the giveaway)! Of course, I dropped everything to start this, and avoided a lot of responsibilities by doing so. (I would just like to note that I read a manuscript, so I’m not sure what the differences were in the ARC/finished copy.)
How do I even describe my love for this novel in coherent words? The Midnight Lie is a bold return to the world of the Winner’s Trilogy, but it is very much its own book. The Midnight Lie enchanted me from the very first page, pulling me into a world of secrets and magic.
I found the prose of this book to be very different than Marie Rutkoski’s last series. I loved it, honestly; it was very lyrical and poetic. It’s also first person, so it felt much more intimate. The sentences were very short with a lot of repetition, but done in a way that created this really foggy atmosphere. When I say “foggy,” I mean that feeling when you forget something but it’s on the tip of your tongue: the sort of remembering that feels like forgetting, which is very much the point of the book.
It was magic, to see the ink disintegrate.
I thought: I wish.
How easy. Everything done became undone. If I didn’t want to see something, I had the power to make it go away.
Nirrim is a great narrator and I loved following her. Her character arc is amazing. Her whole world is being turned upside-down, and she’s realizing that everything that she knows to be true is false. Together with the help of a traveler named Sid, they uncover secrets and lies amidst a dreamy backdrop.
The worldbuilding is stunning, As you know from the Winner’s Trilogy, Rutkoski builds worlds out of nothing, with complex religions and forced social castes. The magic system was interesting, but what I really loved was the religion system, or the lack thereof. Everyone on the island has to accept the norms forced on them; anyone who questions why is simply told: “It is as it is.” The mythology of the island was something missing from their lives, and that’s exactly what Nirrim and Sid seek to uncover.
Also I love Sid, my favorite lesbian rapscallion who’s all at once charming and stubborn and overly curious and overall just a headache! She’s basically the opposite of stoic, rational, and somewhat gullible Nirrim. Their dynamic is great, and oh yeah, did I mention that it’s ownvoices f/f? I wept at the ending honestly, and I have never been so grateful for a sequel.
The Midnight Lie was a stunning addition to a familiar world, set on an island that everyone else has forgotten. It’s a story of realizing that you don’t have to do what you’ve always been told to do, just because it’s what you’ve always been told to do. The characters are amazing, the prose gorgeous, and the plot enticing. The Midnight Lie is one of my favorite releases of 2020, and I can’t wait for the next book.
About the Author: Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of The Winner’s Trilogy, which begins with The Winner’s Curse. She also wrote the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders. Her next project is a YA duology set in the same world as The Winner’s Curse. The first in this duology is called The Midnight Lie and will be published in March 2020.
Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and fiction writing. She lives in Brooklyn with her two sons.