While I never made it past the first book in Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s Curse trilogy (I don’t really know why, it’s been years), The Midnight Lie stood out to me as soon as I heard about it. Magic, class wars, LGBT romance (in this case, f/f rep, which is not immediately obvious from the blurb!) and hints of revolution made me hunger to read this lovely book with one of the most beautiful covers I’ve seen this year! I was lucky enough to be approved for a Netgalley ARC in exchange for an honest review – many thanks to Netgalley and Hodder for the opportunity!
RELEASE DATE: 03/03/2020
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: 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 colours. 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 traveller from far away, who whispers rumours 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. (from Hodder)
OPINIONS: Now, as mentioned above, I have only read one of Marie’s previous books, and The Midnight Lie is set in the same world as that trilogy. While reading, I kept wondering whether I missed extensive amounts of background knowledge, but from what I have been able to gather from reading summaries is that Ethin, the city in which The Midnight Lie is set, is a sort of footnote in the original trilogy, so there really isn’t much to have missed, and there is no need to worry if you’re just starting here!
The story is beautifully written, and the world is well nuanced and finely crafted into its details. However, the plot and characters lean heavily into tropes, making twists and behaviours very predictable at times, and leading to slightly flat characterisations. I still loved every second of the book, and as I was reading this eARC on my phone, read it within about a day, picking it up whenever I could, even if it was just for five minutes on the tube. The Midnight Lie is extremely well paced, effortlessly switching from intimate conversations to action to tender descriptions without losing tension at any point.
While the story addresses issues of class, abuse, and revolution, what I believe to be at its centre is self-discovery and acceptance. Breaking free from one’s routine and questioning the status quo in every respect. Both Nirrim and Sid are forced to reevaluate who they are and who they want to be over the course of the story, and show signs of growth, and their blossoming romance is proof of that, as is the end of the book. I am very curious to see how the story continues in the next installment…