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Forgotten Gods #1

The Midnight Lie

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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.

368 pages, ebook

First published March 3, 2020

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About the author

Marie Rutkoski

27 books8,140 followers
Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and young adults, including THE HOLLOW HEART (September 14, 2021). Her debut for adults, REAL EASY (January 18, 2022), is a psychological thriller.

Born in Illinois, Marie holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Harvard University. She is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with her family.


(photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,522 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews152k followers
February 18, 2021
find this review & others on my blog

It is what it is .” With such a simple yet foreboding line, Rutkoski paints a vivid portrait of an intriguing, deadly world in the first installment of The Midnight Lie series. A world that lays itself open for only one faction: the High Kith. The High Kith wear their wealth as comfortably as the expensive leather that is forbidden in the Ward. They drip with perfume and are corrupt from soft living, and the best our protagonist, Nirrim, can hope for is a life spent creeping in their generous shadows.

Nirrim worked to fit herself inside the narrow confines of this life, the words “it is what it is” like a mantra, like fingers reaching into her mouth, pinching her tongue, keeping her from crying out. But there are gaps between the bars: whispers of long-forgotten gods, scarlet where the white paint on the walls of the Ward had chipped, an Elysium bird sailing high over the Ward like an omen. And a girl. A sea-faring schemer named Sid whose eyes fastened on Nirrim across a low-lit prison cell as though she meant to strip a secret from her soul, and whispered of magic left like a door, ajar onto a new and undiscovered world. Sid gives Nirrim a single threshold on which to balance, a narrow precipice of hope, refulgent and desperate. But can Nirrim climb through the mirror and slide into the skin of the girl she imagines herself to be, brave and unafraid of falling?

While on the surface this seems like a story we’ve seen before, Rutkoski infuses exhilarating new life into it through starkly beautiful language, distinct characters, and remarkable world-building elements that mesh like clockwork with themes of deception, privilege, greed, and an acute exploration of the truths we conceal from ourselves until one day we surface and find them waiting.

The Midnight Lie unfolds unhurriedly with harrowing beauty, precision, and confidence, but there's a rhythm to it, relentless and breathtaking. Reading this book, you get the sense that the author is careful to unspool the secrets of her world with maximum suspense and mystique. It is clear that Rutkoski is playing the long game here, and she's playing it rather superbly. Forging on, you come across a plot that, predictably yet thrillingly, involves far more than a quick hit, and one of the most tantalizing hints of things to come is the frequent mention of the existence of magic, both in Nirrim’s past as well as her terrifying present. The ending, too, is a virtuoso move that shows just how much thought was poured into the novel, and my mind could not settle on a proper question to ask out of the hundred that immediately bubbled up. Rutkoski has cultivated fertile ground for the next books in her promising series to grow, and I will be counting the days until the sequel.

What made this story soar highest for me, however, is the amount of care and attention infused into the characters. Nirrim is the focus of the novel, and the words that fall from her were often so vulnerable they pulled in my chest.

Unlike Sid who seems to walk through life with a giant’s indifference to the world, hanging back, watching from under the rims of her eyelids, Nirrim’s desires and motivations creep into the prose like whispered secrets, held back by the careful thinking of a mind accustomed to good behavior. Because for Nirrim that’s what wants and desires are: secrets. She toys with them the way a child holds their palm to a candle flame, daring to get just close enough to feel the stabbing licks of pain. They are relics of a life she’s never lived, buried and forgotten, the possibilities tucked away for some future time when Nirrim would be strong enough to look directly at it. But once they are unearthed, there is simply no containing them.

Nirrim also begins to see a side of her surrogate mother that leaves her cold—a cruel and merciless side that, for discerning readers, was present long before Nirrim faces it. Years of emotional manipulation and abuse have distorted Nirrim’s perception, and because her (magical) inability to tell illusion from truth has already taught her not to trust herself, Nirrim looked at her “mother’s” possessive, conditional desire to own, as far from warmth as a distant planet, and mistook it for love. It’s not until Nirrim meets Sid that shards of her latent memories force themselves out like splinters, that Nirrim’s world becomes translucent as a window. The acclimation that comes with time, like a body adjusting to a too-hot bath, is chillingly observed throughout the novel, and it’s one of the many jagged, tragic details that make this book so hard-hitting. I really enjoyed seeing Nirrim’s fear, like a fever, break, and I can’t wait to discover where her journey takes her.

Ultimately this was a solid, enjoyable book, and a great start to a promising new series. Highly recommended!

If you liked this review please consider leaving me a tip on Ko-fi !

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,944 reviews292k followers
March 12, 2020
So you tell me what would make a good, quiet girl get herself in trouble, especially when she had so much to lose. Tell me.

Ohhh. That is one seriously cruel and delicious ending. Marie Rutkoski, you are EVIL. In a good way.

I haven’t felt this enthusiastic about the beginning of a YA fantasy series in... well, probably about two years. And people, I'm not gonna lie, it's the romance. Yes, I find so many YA fantasy romances annoying, but when a book gets it just right - just the right amount of sexy, funny and sweet - I become addicted like *snaps fingers* And this one got me so good.

The start of this series is not unlike the start of The Winner's Curse trilogy. Rutkoski clearly has a formula that works for her, and apparently it works for me too. This book, like TWC, is about 80% development of the romance - the banter, the denial, the back-and-forth - with the real (and far bigger) story only making itself known in the last 20% or so of the book. Also like TWC, she leaves this book in a very dramatic place that makes it seem impossible that things can ever be put right! What will we do with ourselves until book two?

The Midnight Lie is set in Herrath, a society with a rigid class system. High Kith exist at the top and live a life of pleasure, freedom and decadence. Half Kith are at the bottom of society, treated cruelly and subjected to harsh punishments for the slightest transgressions. Middlings are self-explanatory. Nirrim is Half Kith and works hard every day in the Ward. She also works hard to keep her secret talent for remembering things hidden.

One day, though she has done nothing wrong, she is accused of a crime and placed in prison. There she meets the enigmatic traveler Sid, who forces Nirrim to question why her society is like it is. Why can't the Half Kith leave the Ward? Why can only certain people wear certain clothes and eat certain foods? What happened to make Herrath this way?

The world itself is nothing that new, nor is the story of a downtrodden people rising up, but it is the details that make this story shine for me. The delightful banter between Nirrim and Sid. The complex, sad portrait of Nirrim's relationship with her abusive guardian. Many books tackle abuse; few show the nightmare of truly loving your abuser and continuing to seek their approval. The author touches on a couple of other thought-provoking issues, too. Such as Nirrim's disturbing relationship with Aden, in which she feels like she owes him reciprocation of his desire.

There are some fascinating avenues to be explored here, for sure, but mostly I think I'm just in love with Sid. Also, it's all just very sexy:
"Nirrim, I can't be good to you."
"Then be bad."


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Profile Image for jessica.
2,510 reviews31k followers
March 6, 2020
well... you win some, you lose some. while one highly anticipated release absolutely knocked it out of the park, this one… not so much.

im so sad i didnt love this, but it all comes down to my complete and total lack of connection to any of the characters. not one. thats never happened to me before. i just couldnt care about any of them. its quite a sobering feeling, because then why even bother finishing the book?

its because MR has some of the most delightful writing known to man (which is why i am rounding up my rating, when i really should be rounding down). wow, her writing is so beautiful. and while i was in love with the words, i just couldnt fall in love with what they were telling me.

overall, a mildly disappointing read for me personally, but i know many readers will really enjoy this!

2.5 stars
Profile Image for may ➹.
471 reviews1,899 followers
March 12, 2021
oh my god they were cellmates

- follows Nirrim, a lesser-privileged half Kith, and Sid, a flirty high Kith traveler, as they discover the history of this fantasy city! magic, mystery, and lesbians kissing ensue
- I liked the characters and the romance a lot! both Nirrim and Sid were compelling characters to me, and that one part that went “I can’t be good to you” “then be bad” really took me OUT
- however, it was a little hard for me to really care for the characters. though I liked them, I felt disconnected from them, and I don’t know if it was because I read it as an audiobook or simply because of bad writing?
- the portrayals of certain things like abusive relationships and compulsory heterosexuality were really well-done! the writing was also really pretty and lyrical
- the plot just felt like it was “meandering”? the whole motive/goal of the story was unclear for pretty much the majority of the story, and I didn’t care enough for the characters to be able to sustain me
- in the end, this was a disappointment. the sapphic romance was as good as everyone said it was but everything else fell very flat for me
- the ending hade me very intrigued though, so it’s safe to say I am excited for the next book… I just hope I am more invested in the sequel than I was with this one


:: rep :: POC lesbian MC, lesbian LI

:: content warnings:: physical & emotional parental abuse, depictions of blood (draining), death/murder (not graphic)

// buddy read with my fave
Profile Image for Ayman.
191 reviews71k followers
September 21, 2021
4.5 ⭐️ the angst !!! the banter !!! no one is doing it like the midnight lie !!! please i need someone to talk to about this book
January 11, 2022

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The Winner's Trilogy is probably one of my favorite YA fantasy series out there, apart from Holly Black's Folk of the Air, so when I found out that Marie Rutkoski was planning a totally different fantasy series, set in a totally different universe, featuring an LGBT romance, I was hopeful, skeptical, and excited, all at once. When an author is that wildly successful, I think the pressure is really on high for them to do it again, and it can be hard to deliver to readers' expectations. We become a sort of hype machine.

Luckily, THE MIDNIGHT LIE didn't disappoint.

THE MIDNIGHT LIE is set in a world divided up by a caste system. High Kith are the nobles who spend their lives in indolent, decadent pleasure. Middlings are the middle class, who have some pleasures but are inferior to the High Kith. Half-Kith, which is what our heroine, Nirrim, is, are the lowest. The only people lower are the Un-Kith, people without a class or home. The homeless, basically.

Nirrim scratches by working under her sort of mother figure, Raven, who acts like she stepped out of the pages of a Charles Dickens novel. To pad their income, she indulges in a bit of criminal activity: forging passports for people-- poor people-- who want to seek out better lives or flee. One day, when she returns the escaped and magical pet of a High Kith, her good deeds land her in jail. As part of the punishment, she also has to "tithe," which basically means she has to give up a body part. Sometimes it's hair or blood, but sometimes it's something more sinister: skin, teeth, or even an eye or hand.

While in prison, Nirrim meets a rakish and mysterious individual named Sid. Sid doesn't seem to have to play by the rules that bind the rest of society. Under Sid's wing, Nirrim finds not just her first blush of real attraction, but the means to question the inherent oppression that's built into the very structure of her society. Why are things the way they are? How did the caste and tithe system come to be, and why does their sinister leader, the Lord Protector, try so hard to hide the past?

This is a great dystopian fantasy and I love how many difficult subjects it tackles within the relatively small span of 350-pages. It does everything I loved about THE WINNER'S CIRCLE: forbidden romance, political and court intrigue, dangerous games, rebellion, and war. This is the second amazing LGBT fantasy for the YA audience that I've read this year, the first being THE WINTER DUKE. I feel so optimistic and excited for other LGBT fantasy releases because it seems like publishers finally understand the demand for them, and are giving them the gorgeous covers and accolades that they deserve. THE MIDNIGHT LIE promises to be an epic fantasy of class and magic that rivals that of Megan Whalen Turner. I'm already into it and can't wait for the next book.

Also, Sid is probably one of the best-portrayed LGBT love interests ever. I loved Sid and Nirrim together, and I loved them apart. The chemistry between them is just so undeniable.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

4 stars
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
570 reviews1,761 followers
August 21, 2020
rep: poc lesbian mc, lesbian li, wlw & mlm side characters
tw: physical and emotional abuse

the lesbianism of it all!!!!

a giant fan of how this book handles abuse & comphet. anyway, i'm dead and i cannot wait for book two to kill me even more
Profile Image for theresa.
286 reviews4,283 followers
August 4, 2021
#2: The Hollow Heart review

Why didn’t I read this book sooner? The Midnight Lie is a stunning story of finding your own power that left me desperate for more. I fell in love with this story and its characters from the first few pages and could not put it down. Rutkoski explores issues of compulsive heterosexuality, toxic relationships and power in a fantasy context through gorgeously fleshed out characters, clever worldbuilding and a relationship that made me feral.

What immediately captured my attention was the writing style. Rutkoski tells this story with a simple, lyrical prose that worked really well to create a narration style that suited Nirrim and was a pleasure to read. I found that the pacing worked really well to raise the stakes and tension and I loved the slow escalation of the plot, until we reached an explosive ending. This book is an interesting one because neither the reader nor the characters are really sure what they’re getting themselves into with this book and it worked really well! I loved following along with Nirrim and Sid as they discovered different secrets and was absolutely not expecting the reveals towards the end.

The highlight of this book is definitely the relationship between Sid and Nirrim. They had an immediate chemistry that only grew as the book progressed. The yearning and pining of these two is next level and the standard I’ll be holding romances to in the future. I loved their interactions, from sniping at each other to begin with, to teasing and developing feelings and saying such lovely romantic things to each other. I also really loved their individual characters. Sid is the rakish and brash love interest and I adored her confidence and humour. Nirrim, on the other hand, is the opposite. She’s been taken advantage of her whole life and really became less of herself due to her environment and I just loved watching her thrive as Sid taught her to question the world around her.

Something I also appreciated was making Sid explicitly a lesbian. Seeing a character in a fantasy novel receive the exact same “but how can you be sure?” argument that lesbians receive all the time in the real world was amazing, alongside her fluidity in gender presentation. Sid wears traditionally men’s clothes at times, such as when she and Nirrim first meet, and I adored the conversations around this choice and presentation. She is just so sure of herself and her sexuality and it was a joy to read. I also loved Nirrim’s journey with sexuality as she moved between the Ward, where same sex relationships are forbidden and the rest of the city, where the High Kith are free to pursue any relationship they want, and as she grew closer with Sid, who makes no secret of her attraction to women. Seeing a character struggle with compulsive heterosexuality is always really interesting to read and I loved seeing it in a fantasy context.

I adored The Midnight Lie and I’m so glad I finally read it, even if I’m now desperate for the sequel. There’s endless possibilities of where this series can go and I can’t wait to see what Rutkoski does with it and be reunited with these characters. If you’re looking for a low fantasy novel full of secrets with incredible character development and an F/F romance guaranteed to make you feral, then I highly recommend this book!

Want to know more (aka watch me have a breakdown over sidnirrim)? Check out my reading vlog for this book and three other popular sapphic books here!

I also talk about books here: youtube | instagram | twitter
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
August 22, 2020
It’s a midnight lie... 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.

The Midnight Lie follows Nirrim, a lower-caste girl living in the home of her middle-caste adoptive mother, Raven. In her world, the Half-Kith, or lower-class, have to pay tithes for any crimes—tithes of body, meant to go to the upper-class High Kith. When she’s arrested for catching & returning a red bird, Nirrim meets Sid, a jailed thief, and gets dragged into a conflict that will involve the whole world.

The Midnight Lie takes place in Herrath, a land separate from the Winner’s trilogy worlds of Valoria and Herrani—a world that exists on no maps. There’s magic here, where there is none anywhere else. This world is intoxicating, terrifying, and beautiful. The plot, while slow, winds you tightly around its finger. But those aspects are not what makes this book so good: it survives off character.

Nirrim begins the book essentially stagnated: she knows what is expected of her, to fall for the right boy and kiss him the right way, and so she does it. She is, in these chapters, almost half-asleep. The most alive we see her is in a vivid nightmare about waking up next to the dead body of Helin, her best friend.

The dynamic between Nirrim and Raven, her adopted mother, is one of the most interesting in the book. Raven is emotionally and physically abusive. You, the audience, know, or suspect, from early on. But the way this arc evolves is genuinely excellent. It feels as if you see through Nirrim's perspective, are as torn by Raven's manipulation as she is.

Those of you who have interacted in lesbian/bi/sapphic circles will probably recognize the term compulsory heterosexuality. This is admittedly a pretty broad social phenomenon, but recent discussion has focused a lot on how it can cause lesbians to force themselves into relationships with men, sans attraction: women aren’t taught to consider their own desires above those of men. For Nirrim, this interplays perfectly into her identity as an abuse survivor. When has she ever been asked for her feelings? So with little conscious effort, she has forced herself into a relationship with a man she hardly cares for, not knowing relationships should make her feel something.

It is this that makes seeing her shift into a relationship with a woman so incredibly satisfying. Nirrim and Sid have… so much chemistry. The relationship that builds between them is slow, but easy to invest in. Basically, OH to meet a super butch tourist locked in jail and have her attempt to seduce me.

Though The Midnight Lie was at times as slow as I remember Winner’s Curse being, this story had me so invested. I’m really excited for the sequel.

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Profile Image for Boston.
394 reviews1,848 followers
January 3, 2021
1st read: *grabby hands* ANOTHER

2nd read: it seems I forgot how much that ending hurts
Profile Image for ;3.
385 reviews776 followers
April 25, 2020
cellmates to lovers trope outsold 😌✋

i’m honestly at a loss for words, i can’t think of anything coherent. every single great thing about this book just pops into my mind at once. i could list a hundred quotes that i’ve bookmarked. i don’t remember the last time i paused an audiobook so much just so i could scream into my pillow because of something so tender and sweet.

sid and nirrim have a special place in my heart now and i know it’s going to take me forever to get over that ending i just Know it. also i think i have spiritual heartburn from thirsting over sid so much.
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews977 followers
April 12, 2020

Actual rating: 3.5 stars

“It’s a midnight lie... 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.”

The Midnight Lie is a beautiful and haunting story. I am in love with Marie Rutkoski's writing and will never stop praising her for the magic she brings with her every word.

However, there were a couple of things that stopped me from giving this book a higher rating. And the most relevant of those reasons is a similarity of this book with the original The Winner's Trilogy. Unfortunately, the connection of this new series with its older sisters has done it a poor service. I couldn't stop comparing the plot, the structure - everything that in one or another way reminded me of my beloved series. The Midnight Lie felt, at times, repetitive because we once again have a limited world, we, once again, see that world through the eyes of a character (this time 1st POV which, in my opinion, was a miss) who struggles to find their place in that world. Moreover, this book reminded me a lot of The Forgetting, which I enjoyed, and couldn't stop from comparing the two books, though they are similar in idea but different in structure.

I also think that The Midnight Lie would fit better for those people who are not familiar with The Winner's Trilogy. For sure, they would miss some references from there, but, in a way, they will win because they wouldn't have to feel the repetitiveness of the events.

That leads me to my next big issue, which is the characters. Oh, don't get me wrong, I liked the characters and sympathized with them, I just couldn't connect. 1st POV made it hard for me to love Nirrim, who felt like quite a passive character. It puzzled me because Marie's beautiful language intensified all emotions the heroine felt. But, at the same time, Nirrim was a cliche character. A special snowflake kind. First, she is nobody, then she learns about her abilities and decides to resist the cruel society (also the dystopian note didn't ring true with my feelings), and on the way, she falls in love and finds herself in a way she hasn't dreamt of. Yes, we've seen it all before. What I adored about the original trilogy is that the characters were special without having any special abilities. I loved how myths were mixed with the story. Ironic, considering . But somehow mythology felt secondary and less more significant than it should've been.

The only character I really loved was Syd, a mysterious traveller, who from the first appearance in the story made it much brighter and also

The last thing that made me quite upset is the time period. The story takes place around twenty years from the events of the Winner's Trilogy, and as it is a part of the same world I was thinking about my beloved characters twenty years older... and it kind of made me upset. I was sure the story would not go as far in the time span and was disappointed to see it actually had jumped so far in the future. Well, in a way I would not be able to look at my beloved characters with the same eyes and it makes me quite sad, I have to say.

But it is what it is, and it's how Marie Rutkoski sees her world, and who I am but a humble reader, who follows her goddess into the unknown? Despite the things I imagined differently I am still very excited about the sequel and the way the story would progress. It's a two-book deal and soon enough I will know how it ends!



Aaahhh, we've got a new premise and it clarifies some things and intrigues so much!

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy

Omg, I am hyperventilating!

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away

I wonder if maybe it's one of the characters from TWT but under disguise?

I don’t know how I feel about the change of the title. Fall like thieves had some kind of wicked charm to its sound and The Midnight Lie feels simpler compared to it.



We have an annotation!!

There is a bird that can't be caught. It sings a song that reminds you of things you have forgotten, that heightens everything good you feel, that can charm you and trick you. Nobody has ever hunted it. But in the Blood Ward, where Nirrim lives, the idea of catching this bird is enough to change everything.

Nirrim's city is rife with crime and ruled by a tribunal that is quick to punish. She has heard that life is different outside the city walls, but people of her low status have never been allowed to leave. She has learned to trust no one but herself. She has learned to use secrets to her advantage.

But when the Elysium Bird appears at her window, Nirrim must learn to take a risk, hunt it down-and change her life.

OMG! Do tell me is it me or we gonna have another fabulously cunning heroine like Kestrel?!

In this book, readers "will see at least one character [they] know from the original series". (source)

Also, "it takes place on an island everyone has forgotten".

Alriiight, it's time to start speculating!! Folks, who do you think this character might be? And what place Marie is referring to? Maybe it's time to go re-read The Winner's Trilogy? 🤔

My bets are on Roshar! I realyyyyy want to see him in a new book! *squeaking*

UPD: Fall like thieves <--- Am I the only one who feels Six of crows vibe here? Anyhow, this is Marie Rutkoski and my body is ready for anything she writes.

*looks at the release date* Where's my time machine?
New YA fantasy from Marie Rutkoski.

Me: I'll sell my firstborn for this book.

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
May 7, 2021
Feel exactly the same upon reread.
3.5 stars

I feel about The Midnight Lie the way I felt about The Winner's Curse. I can copy my review of it, and it will work just as well here.

The Midnight Lie is the kind of fantasy that doesn't really have much fantasy or world building in it. It's mostly a personal journey with a ton of romancing. And again, I am totally reminded of Cashore's fantasy work, especially Bitterblue (NOT my fave) in the way it deals with memory and erased history.

The story is set in a very vaguely sketched world with 3 separate social classes. Passive and quiet Nirrim belongs (of course!) to the lowest one. She goes about her days, complacent and accepting of her fate. Until... she meets Sid. And here lies the crux of Rutkoski's appeal. The slow burn romance, the thinking, the talking and talking and talking. There is magic to her love interests simply talking and circling each other. The languor of their interactions just works for me. I ship these people, that's it.

I wish the fantasy part was much stronger though. The ideas in this story are big - gods, memories, gaslighting even. The latter part of the novel dabbles in themes VERY similar to the ones in Laini Taylor's work. But the world is just so small and underdevoled, I could cry.

But I WILL DEFINITELY read the next book in this (?)duology.

P.S. The audio narrator for The Midnight Lie is the same as for The Winner's Curse, and I dislike her moany style very much still.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,372 reviews1,835 followers
March 3, 2020
D u d e.

That was my reaction at the close of this book. I had no words, really, beyond being stunned and shocked and so desperate for book two.

THE MIDNIGHT LIE was nothing I ever expected. Knowing this was connected to The Winner's Trilogy doesn't give you any insight into the story or themes or plot and honestly? I kind of liked that. This, as all my reviews tend to be, will be spoiler free in an effort to retain some of the mystery, that uncertainty, but even knowing how this book begins? You won't see where it goes.

It was the kind of impossible wish you treat as though it is precious. You make a home for it in your heart. You give it the downiest of beds for its rest. You feed it the choicest pieces, even when the meat it eats is your very soul.

As far as the connection to the original trilogy, think of this spinoff as what SIX OF CROWS was to The Grisha Trilogy. Some similar worldbuilding, but different context. Some alluded to events, but nothing detailed. Maybe cameos. I won't confirm or deny. But that's what you're getting here. Maybe that'll change with future books? I don't know.

What I will say, is this book was hard to read at times. Our protagonist, like many in her community, is not well treated. But reading what Nirrim, in particular, is forced to do, what she convinces herself she must do, and how she is gaslighted (gaslit?) at almost every turn, is horrible, horrendous, and hard. There were times I got so frustrated I had to set the book down. But it's even more interesting to view in hindsight because of where she ends up.

[..] there is no possible way to understand fairness and guilt when your world has already determined a set of rules that don't make sense.

Yes, I'm terrible, I'm not sorry.

As for the romance? Swoon.

I had every intention of rereading the original trilogy before this one but never did (lolz 4ever because I'm incapable of helping myself, I guess?) but honestly I think, considering where this book went, it was better that I didn't. But I'll totally be rereading before book two because I'll want to reread this one, too.

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.

I can't wait for more and I'm so happy that this author, with her beautiful prose, and her complex, complicated characters, is back. I'm just hoping there's a foreign edition, yet to be announced, with a better cover.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Lucy.
413 reviews603 followers
March 11, 2020
3.5**** rounded up! After That ending I truly need to find out what happens next!

This was an interesting world built on oppression. Those who are half-kith are not allowed colour, or sweets and are kept behind a wall with no means to escape. Consequences in this ward require paying a tithe. It is a place where “it is as it is” is a rule and no questions are allowed.

This had a f/f romance and the book was about the relationship building as a main focus. However it also shows an oppressive world and the main character’s development from docile and compliant, to questioning everything, curiosity, bravery and love.

This is a story about control and what happens when you’re the one with power. It’s about the realisation of the truth and the lengths someone will go to to overthrow an oppressive and abusive regime.

This book is dark with hidden truths. It shows how someone could still love an abuser and how they justify the abuse- blaming themselves and that “they deserve it”. These scenes are angering and bleak. However, the flirting and scenes with Sid off-set this constant darkness.

This had an excellent ending and a brilliant set up for a second book. Overall I did enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,387 followers
March 10, 2020
Me: h-
Marie Rutkoski: and YOU get no rights

(4.5 stars)

FUCK!!!!!! the romance!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAIMGAYAAAAA!!!!!

There's something that makes me extremely emo (in a good way) about authors whose previously pretty straight books I loved coming up with casual sapphic content. Anyway I'm so here for this!!!
Profile Image for Lucie V..
999 reviews1,636 followers
June 9, 2022
“It’s a midnight lie... 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.”

✅ World-building
✅ Relationships
✅ Characters
✅🆗 Romance (F/F)
🆗 Plot
🆗 Action

3.5 stars

What is this ending!? Once again, Marie Rutkoski leaves us with a cruel ending. If you read the The Winner's Curse trilogy you know what kind of ending I am talking about.

This book is a preparation for the second book (obviously!). What I mean is that we get to know the characters, their world, their dreams, and their fears. The main intrigue, the bigger plot, does not take a lot of room in this book. It's more about the main character and her relationships (friends, family, and romance).

This story happens in Herrath, a society with a class system: high-kith are at the top, half-kith are at the bottom (unless you count the un-kith) and the middlings are in the middle. High-kith live a life of abundance and decadence while the half-kith are forced to live with the bare minimum behind the walls of the ward.

Nirrim is a half-kith who has done nothing wrong her entire life, until one day she is falsely accused of a crime and thrown in prison. There, she meets Sid, a mysterious traveler that starts asking questions that forces Nirrim to wonder about her society. Why do the half-kith have to stay in the ward? How can the high-kith have access to magic? Why does no one remembers or know the history of Herrath?

The world-building of The Midnight Lie, and the story of an oppressed girl wishing for more and starting to ask questions is nothing new, it's the relationships in the book that are amazing. From the abusive relationship between Nirrim and her guardian to the one she has with Aden because she feels that she owes him something, everything is beautifully written, complex, and well developed. The romance is also great, the teasing, the back and forth, and the uncertainty created something beautiful and realistic.

I enjoyed this book quite a lot and I will most probably read the next one when it comes out.

Fanart by Alexiel April

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Profile Image for Pine tree leaf stick.
182 reviews303 followers
January 3, 2021

And before I start on my emotional rant, please note that this review gives absolutely no insight into the qualities of the book. This is simply me screaming about the ending and regretting my life decisions. Also note that if I was saying this review out loud, it would be while I screamed and cried. Just thought that was important.

I hate this book.
I hate this book so much that I'm giving it 5 stars.
Never have a regretted anything as much as I regret reading this book. I regret all the decisions that led me to read The Midnight Lie.
All of them.
I am such an idiot. I knew this would happen, and yet I ignored all the warnings. I ignored the reviews that said stuff like "THAT ENDING," and "HOW DARE YOU, MARIE RUTKOSKI." All the possible signs of devastating endings and horrible cliffhangers. I ignored them all.

And you know what? The warnings were right.

This brings me back to my original point: I am an idiot. I am an idiot for reading this book shortly after its release because I now have to wait an eternity before I can read the next book.

I cannot express the gravity of my book hangover, nor can I properly explain the shock I was in as I read the final chapter: The awful epilogue.

I literally cannot believe what happened. I see no way to fix this. I see no hope in the future. Only dark clouds of book hangover and depression. I watch people live their lives normally as if I haven't been torn to pieces by the ending of this book.

It's like my ship through this entire book opened a door to my heart ONLY FOR MY HEART TO BE TORN OUT AND RIPPED TO SHREDS.

I was going to give this four stars. All through my reading I thought how this is a good book with lovely romance and it deserves a solid four stars. But then the ending made it five. I hate it that much. And I tried not to let the ending influence my decision to give this four stars. I really tried. I went to bed instead of rating this immediately because I wanted to convince myself that I can't just up the rating because of the ending. Apparently I can. 12 hours later and I am still stuck on five stars. And I am still in shock.


I would do anything for the next book. ALMOST anything. I would most definitely NOT sell my soul.
I'm going to sob in a corner now. Maybe stare at a wall for a while. Contemplate my existence. Invent time travel so I can travel to the future and read the sequel.

And I guess I should mention that I loved the romance and I loved the characters and I hate this book.


5/5 leave me alone to die.
Profile Image for Samantha.
409 reviews16.7k followers
January 20, 2023
3.75 stars

tw: torture; emotional abuse; gaslighting; homophobia

This is a book that I DNF'd for now a few years ago because it wasn't connecting at the time but I'm so glad I returned to it. This feels like if The Capitol in the Hunger Games was based around magic instead of science/tech and if gods were involved. I love a series with a pantheon and this definitely has that as the book progresses. There are some things that are kind of flat about it, like the antagonists I find a bit wooden. But otherwise, I enjoyed this and plan to finish the duology.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
655 reviews3,856 followers
November 5, 2020
and they were CELLMATES (oh my god they were cellmates)

“It’s a midnight lie... 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.”

So a lot of people hyped this one up for me. I don't know if I didn't like it more because audiobook/reading slump/wasn't my thing idk but I didn't love it as much as I hoped? that said I did still like it. I LOVED Sid, and I loved Sid and Nirrim's relationship. Thematically, the exploration of compulsory heterosexuality was excellently done, in a way I've never seen before in young adult fiction. But I found the plot meandering, with not enough clear motivation or goal for the characters. The worldbuilding felt overly explained, given it lacked originality. I also didn't vibe with Marie Rutkoski's first book, The Winners Curse, so maybe it's just me and not Marie.

Overall though, still enjoyable especially for the lesbian relationship. "I can't be good to you, then be bad" took me TF OUTTT. Will probably continue the series, since I feel most the drama and plot it yet to come and this was just a large, large set up
Profile Image for Ashley.
785 reviews422 followers
May 27, 2022
Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars

“So you tell me what would make a good, quiet girl get herself in trouble, especially when she had so much to lose.
Tell me.”

“I see this story perfectly, its moments cut crystal in my mind. I remember how this story, like a great, sheer bowl, bore a sea of emotion — my guilt, my loneliness, my longing. I remember little rivulets of delight, the warmth of love.”

So- I didn’t just love this book; I fell absolutely head over heels IN love with this wonderfully elegant, yet delightfully cheeky (I know, oxymoron central there— but 100% accurate description in this case) tale.

This lost .5 stars because I truly had to force my way through the first 50 pages or so. Not because it was bad by any means; I just was expecting magic & romance, which I didn’t get right away, and I am
impatient AF. I wanted my damn magic and queer romance! That said, the rest of my review refers to everything AFTER the pages at the beginning of the book that I had trouble with.

The main character of this book is Nirrim, who begins as a shy, quiet, naïve, ‘play-by-the-rules’ kind of girl. As the book continues on, she becomes more & more curious & daring; she wants to find out the mysteries of the island and does so, with Sid. She is our main protagonist, and narrator.

Sid is the love interest in this tale and she is a self proclaimed liar, sly, unpredictable, and passionate. She is a traveler who does not live on the island that Nirrim is from. She’s pretty swoon worthy if I do say so myself 😉.

The Midnight Lie is a story of (partly, as I don’t want to give away any spoilers!):
• self-discovery & Discovery, of mystery & magic;
• an LGBTQIA+ (Perfection❤️) romance & bravery, of Thievery & stolen hearts (*wink wink* 😉 and phew are Sid & Nirrim swoon-worthy AF);
• secrets & betrayal, of wanting and deserving something more & having the strength to overcome the lies that we tell ourselves to achieve it;
• new experiences & overcoming the lies others to tell us to experience them, of things never being quite what they seem, & being clever enough to figure out the truth.

This story is just complete [ fantastical, clever, mystery-laden, curiouser & curiouser ] perfection. The prose is so very carefully woven, masterfully crafted & executed, that I simply cannot praise it enough.

I loved the fact that the novel has a rich, well rounded plot, detailed character development, as well as vivid world building, but still manages to read smoothly & easily. Never does it feel arduous or tiring.
That said, I think it takes an immense amount of skill to address everything that makes for an incredible story in this manner, but Rutkoski does it with ease.

The result is a complex storyline spun so carefully and with such prowess, artistry, & beauty that you don’t even realize just how many parts & pieces are in play until the very last page.
Speaking of which, the end LEFT ME SHOOK! Cliffhanger much? I cannot WAIT until the next book in the series!

I highly recommend ☺️
Profile Image for Emma.
971 reviews966 followers
February 20, 2020
Nerrim lives in the Ward. It's a district of limitations, of danger and drudgery. Hers is a near colourless existence made bearable by her found family and the secret work she performs to help other Half Kith live free. When the Elysium bird appears one day, it brings change with it, triggering a series of events that transforms Nerrim’s life. The world around her is made uncertain, it’s a place full of lies.

So you tell me what would make a good, quiet girl get herself in trouble, especially when she had so much to lose.

Tell me.

By far the most impressive part of The Midnight Lie is the writing, the author playing with lyrical or prosaic language in turn. Each sentence is cleverly crafted and beautifully evocative, emphasising the tone of the scene or clashing with it in arresting discord. It has sentences that stop you in your tracks; more than the weirdness of this imagined world, it is the enchantment of the words that take you somewhere magical. It’s this poetic style which makes the book stand out. Of course, it's impossible to read about this kind of dystopia, typified by its rule-bound, stratified society and victimised group, without recalling the many, MANY other YA books that begin with the same concept. It's a pretty crowded genre in which to impress, but while the namings here feel somewhat contrived, the larger world-building is effectively realised. It might not feel new, but it still works, especially since, for me at least, it seemed merely the foil that allowed the characters to shine.

And what characters they are! Identity is at the heart of this and the book never stops questioning what it takes to be who you are. Nerrim is a fascinating creation, far from the traditional heroine so often set up as the protagonist in these kinds of stories. Her voice is contemplative, somewhat naive, and quite clearly institutionalised, but increasingly determined to ask questions and find her way. Her journey is nothing less than the finding of self. It’s a believably slow discovery of truths by a girl caught in webs of emotional manipulation, obligation, and expectation. The realities of both world and character are deliberately obstructed, muddied by what Nerrim thinks she knows and by visions which make her unsure of what’s real. While the reader treads the same path of enlightenment as Nerrim, learning most of the important details of plot and place at the same pace as she does, there are some issues hidden from her that we see with brutal clarity. Her problematic relationships are vividly painted, presenting a jarring distance between us and her. That is, until Sid arrives and brings our understanding in to the story, revealing to Nerrim what we cannot. Yet Sid is not all she seems either. Both Nerrim and Sid have their own paths, their own challenges, each mediating between their own desires and what others want them to be. Their f/f relationship is delicious, both flirty and fun. Its promise is what what brought me to the book and it sure delivered.

I wondered what kind of night was so precious that when morning came it felt as if you had been robbed, as if what you wanted most had been cut from you like a bloody tithe.

I had never had a night worth stealing.

There’s NO WAY that I won’t be finding out where this story goes. To call the final section a cliffhanger is to undersell it. My dropped jaw hit the floor hard enough to bruise and I'm still not over it. If you graphed this book, it'd look like a steady rise upwards, a progressive building of action, emotion, and character. But the epilogue.... that hits so hard it wouldn't even be on the same chart. I did that 'you cannot be serious' thing where you have to read and then reread the section because so much happens over so few lines that it feel unreal. But it definitely made an impact and it's oh so clever, because what comes next is going to cause a ton of pain and discord. My heart is going to hurt…I know it. And I can't wait.

One final thing. While her previous series, the Winner's Trilogy, is apparently set in the same world as this, it’s certainly possible to start your journey here, as I did. Other reviewers have noted that there are connections, but that this can and should be taken on its own merit. Besides, finding this author now just means I have a whole new set of books to add to my wishlist. I'm ready to be wowed.

ARC via publisher
Profile Image for Robin.
298 reviews1,284 followers
January 8, 2021
Sapphic YA books with snakes on the cover for the win
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
836 reviews329 followers
November 19, 2020
This book is for you if… slightly prose-like narratives that carry secrets that are just out of touch - you'll be basically flirting right along with the characters.

Marie likes two things, judging by the books of her I’ve read so far - untruths and secrets -, and while both make for great stories, they also make for a barrier between the reader and the text. Looking at Marie's writing, her academic background in literature definitely shows, but I've always felt like authors who have a huge knack with words usually lack certain conversational qualities. They inevitably tend to write with exhilaration and extravaganza, which, with all their tools and little arts, hide parts of a book from the reader. Some of us like this - it's like flirting with a book, the author even. It fascinates us to see beautiful worlds tell tales.

Personally, I believe there is a fine line between enchanting somebody with your words and making them run for the hills because of the riddles you throw at them. Marie dances on that line while I hold my breath, afraid each minute she'll lose me to her perfecting her art.

At this point, we're flirting with each other and I'm liking it, but I'm a bit afraid that, as the series will progress, so will Marie's riddle-filled language. I do, however, strongly recommend this book. For now, I'd like to applaud Marie for a touching book that carries as many midnight lies as it carries truths we all can relate to.
‘It’s a midnight lie... 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.’

The main theme of The Midnight Lie is actually in the title. We accompany Nirrim, a girl who believes she is satisfied with the simple life she lives, helping her adoptive mother do good things for the people in her slum. As is often the case, once somebody unveils one lie, a domino reaction sets off and we realize - to say it with the word's of Selena Gomez - everything is not what it seems. The message Marie sends here is powerful, and I'm eager to hop back on the connecting train that will take me from a pandemic-ridden, boring everyday life straight to Nirrim and her adventure.

What’s happening.
‘Youre going to have to stop that,’ I said.
She made innocent eyes. ‘Stop what?’
‘Being so smug.’
‘Why would I,’ she said, ‘when you love it?’

It takes a special person to make you question the things you believe to be true and good and whole. Nirrim was a firm believer in accepting things as they were. Until she meets a strange woman - meeting her, Nirrim unmasks untruths and lies until she's sure nothing short of changing the world will let her find peace again.
4 STARS.Would stay up beyond my typical hours to finish it. I found some minor details I didn't like, agree with or lacked in some kind but overall, this was enjoyable and extraordinary.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,270 reviews337 followers
August 1, 2021
Definitely a great read! The main character had such an arduous life that I was hoping she would take the risk to experience something new than to settle for what’s familiar. I was so happy when she did just that. I liked it when the title was explained in the story because I didn’t know its meaning. I loved it when Sid was introduced into the story. I enjoyed their bantering and their slow burning romance as well as their adventures. The magic was interesting and new and I enjoyed Nirrim’s discoveries of the mystery surrounding her abilities, where she came from, and the deceit she was trapped in.

This book followed Nirrim, told in the first person point of view. This world Nirrim lives in was hard but she had no control of what kind of life she was born into. Nirrim unfortunately was born into Half Kith and live behind a wall called the Ward, a kind of jail that forced her to continue to commit crimes and keep silent to survive. Due to an event, she was sent to prison. From there she met Sid. Sid opened her eyes to more things than she believed she knew. The Ward where Nirrim live housed all orphans and unwanted babies. High Kith was the dream life. Sid wanted to find the source of magic and enlisted Nirrim to help in exchange for her freedom from behind the wall even if for a short time.

The Midnight Lie was well written and a fast paced read. At first I was confused by the talks about the gods. It became clearer at the end of the book. How true it is to have no control to the life we are born into but it was fantastic to see the changes Nirrim went through to change her life for the better. She had to lie and fought for what she wanted despite the pushbacks. She took control of the situation whether it was uncomfortable and I loved this kind of reading. She was weak when she seek for love in places that weren’t there but that made her strong. I’m excited to read the sequel! I love the new covers. I recommend everyone to read this book!

xoxo, Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details

Many thanks to Fierce Reads for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.
Profile Image for Holly.
1,414 reviews960 followers
March 23, 2020
Five years ago I read this author's YA trilogy starting with The Winner's Curse and that series really got better with each subsequent book. So I had high hopes for this new series! Unfortunately it didn't meet my (perhaps too high) expectations, BUT it was pretty good for YA (a genre I almost never read now). I am now hoping that this new series will follow the same trajectory of getting better with each new book, so I'll definitely still pick up the next one when it comes out.
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