The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski (book review).

May 6, 2020 | By | Reply More

‘The Midnight Lie’ by Marie Rutkoski is the first in a duology set in the same world as her ‘Winners Trilogy’. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have read that trilogy to enjoy this book. Personally, I’ve not read the trilogy as yet and I found this book enjoyable.

Nirrim lives in a world where the different classes are all separated out on her little island. Nirrim is part of the Half Kith, who serve the Middling who in turn serve the High Kith. This means that Nirrim and her family are not allowed to wear anything but the dullest of clothes with no ornamentation.

They can only eat the lowest foods and can have no entertainment. If she were to get caught breaking any of these rules she must pay a tithe, which normally takes the form of blood or a body part. Nirrim keeps her head down and does as she is told until, one day, she meets Sid who tells her that the world she lives in does not have to be as it currently is. Sid tempts Nirrim to think outside the rules.

I loved the characters of Nirrim and Sid. They were both so interesting, especially as their relationship grows and changes. Sid really does challenge Nirrim to think about why things are as they are. Does anything exist beyond her island and why is everyone so happy to accept life as it is? I’m so glad that Sid comes into Nirrim’s life as she makes Nirrim stand up to the many people who are bullying and gaslighting her.

As the reader, we can see all the terrible things Nirrim puts up with and, to be honest, it did annoy me to begin with that Nirrim just puts up with things. The gaslighting in particular was hard to read as Nirrim as the victim just had no idea. Having said all that I have to say that my favourite character was Sid, they were just amazing!

This book is filled with some fabulous world-building, detail filled history and amazing characters. I was a little nervous going in that I would be missing some elements as I’ve not read Rutkoski’s previous books, but I needn’t have worried. This is written in such a way that you learn about the world easily without being told anything and everything just feels very organic. I loved learning about the ways each of the different sections of society lived, from the dowdy and downtrodden lower ranks to the magical world of the highest class.

Although this book does involve a magical world and there is some magic in the story, this is mostly a story about the love between Sid and Nirrim. This being a female/female romance in a world where homophobia is rift in some sections of society makes this an interesting book to read. This does mean it’s a fairly light fantasy in terms of the actual magic but it is quite heavy in some of the topics it shows.

This is not an action-packed traditional fantasy novel, it moves along at a slow pace as we watch Nirrim make discoveries about her world and herself. The majority of this book is about Sid and Nirrim and their hesitant steps into a relationship. Only right at the end of the book does Rutkoski reveal what the real story going on behind the scenes is all about. I’m not going to spoil that, you’ll just have to read the book. Then we get that ending!

Overall, I loved this book and I can’t wait to read the second in the duology especially after that ending! Rutkoski has written such an interesting end to this book I can’t wait to see what happens next to all the characters we’ve met in book 1.

Sarah Bruch

May 2020

(pub: Hodder & Stoughton, 2020. 356 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-52933-355-8)

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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