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.
The Midnight Lie is a Y/A fantasy set on the fictional island of Herrath, where a rigid caste system dictates every element of life for the Half Kith who are on the bottom rungs of society. Middlings enjoy some privileges whilst the High Kith are the only ones who enjoy total freedom with extravagant parties, games and excess. Nirrim is half kith, an orphan who was taken in by the unpredictable Raven, whom she feels indebted to. Nirrim also has an innate gift or talent in seeing what is hidden and the ability to remember things perfectly. After a misadventure one evening, Nirrim is imprisoned awaiting her fate, which usually means certain death for the Half Kith. However, Nirrim is saved by the rakish Sid, a traveller from a distant land who brings with her questions of magic and mystery and changes Nirrim’s life forever.
‘All of us in the Ward lived our lives around empty spaces, but she became the emptiness’
I loved the writing in this book so much, it was so beautiful with sumptuous descriptions and so many memorable quotes that I went a little highlight happy. I haven’t read any of Marie Rutkoski’s other books, including the well known Winners trilogy but I’m definitely putting it on my TBR now. I loved the slow build up in this novel and how there was a lot of exposition and world building, plus excellent characterisation in the first 3/4 of the novel then it was all guns blazing, in the last section. While usually pacing can be a major issue for me, it really worked for me here. Plus that gut punch of an ending? Wow, just wow. It’s been a seriously long time since an ending has left me this devastated but also excited to read what comes next.
‘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’
As well as the writing itself, there were such interesting and realistic relationship dynamics explored within the book. Although Raven did take Nirrim in and has taken care of her since she was a baby, they have a complicated relationship which is rooted in manipulation and abuse. I thought this was such a sad but real portrayal and is approached in a nuanced way. Another disturbing relationship dynamic explored is between Nirrim and Aden, who guilts and pressures her in such insidious ways to returning his advances. There’s a lot to unpack here, but it is so refreshing and important that these issues are explored, especially in a Y/A novel.
‘Sometimes people want something so badly you feel like it’s your obligation to give it’
Can I just say how much I love Sid? Sid is great, consider me a stan. I loved her whole attitude and her carefree, adventurous spirit but also her sensitivity which she rarely shows but is so obviously there. I thought the whole introduction between Sid and Nirrim via prison cells was fun to read and the banter and sharing of their stories was A+. I can’t fault the romance in this novel, it’s slow burn, it’s angsty and it’s so sweet but super sexy too. Hats off to Marie Rutkoski, she really did that.
‘Quietly, she said, you are my favourite impossible person’
Overall, The Midnight Lie was such an exciting beginning to this duology and I can’t wait to read the next book already. I can imagine a lot of people will love this book and it will definitely get a lot of hype which it definitely deserves.
Until next time,