The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski: Magical and Exquisite

by Marie Rutkoski

expected publication: 3 March 2020 by Farrar Straus and Giroux
genres: young adult fantasy

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


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 Kith 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.


I received digital review copy from publisher via Edelweiss+. This does not affect my review in any way; all opinions are my own.

Marie Rutkoski is back again with fantasy romance that revolves around politic and history of a country. It is different from The Winner’s Curse but reading this book gives me sense of familiarity. Rutkoski’s writing never fails to amaze me, in a way that I couldn’t put this book down. Her lyrical writing is mixed with beautiful prose. Marie Rutkoski is the real goddess of thieves; she stole my attention and imagination away, then refuse to give it back to me. 

Despite the slow progressing story, The Midnight Lie was actually a short read that you can finish in one sitting or a day. I don’t understand how Marie Rutkoski could write about politic and history, but still make her book feels light and fun to read.

But, keep it in mind that this is not a plot driven book. The Midnight Lie revolves around romance between Nirrim and Sid, with some scenes showing an actual issue of life in the Herrath. I enjoy this book but, I feel like the climax could’ve been written better. One of my pet peeves is when author shoved everything onto the last pages and call it a day.

Marie Rutkoski is brilliant when it comes to world building and character development, but not to building a good storyline where you know what’s actually happening in the book.


Set in the same world as The Winner’s Trilogy, Herrath is long-lost island where magic is hidden and forgotten, with a structual social caste system that keeps everything in order. Marie Rutkoski is always been a queen of world building, because she really took her time to create an exquisite world building, where everything feels glamourous and magical.

Instead of explaining things, Rutkoski showing us through Nirrim’s eyes. The Ward, with a wall so high to separate Half Kiths from Middlings and High Kiths, its dull architecture and lack of colors. Half Kiths, with no knowledge of their origins. I love that Rutkoski didn’t shove me with heavy world building—since I haven’t yet finished reading The Winner’s Trilogy—but instead giving me small details that slowly work themselves to create memorable and unique world building.

What keeps my interest is how people in Herrath seems like they forget their origin and history. I feel like Sid; curious about what and why keeps the people from recalling their past. I would like to appreciate Marie Rutkoski for giving me new original story, with new idea whereas other author keeps recycling the same plot and idea over again.


Beside the world building, Marie Rutkoski come back with new lovable characters whose development is very detailed, despite being told in first person POV.

Our narrator, Nirrim, is a naive girl living in the Ward as long as she lives. Unlike other female badass heroine, Nirrim is portrayed as selfless, weak and vulnerable young woman. And that what makes Nirrim, Nirrim. With The Midnight Lie published in Women’s History Month, I think it’s important for everyone to look up at Nirrim. A lot of time people think, strong female herroine requires skilled combat and a weapon in hand. Victim of abuse is a herroine on their own story, and that’s what happened in Nirrim’s case. Surviving an emotional trauma of abuse and thought of unable to do anything if you’re away from your abuser can be a tough battle. You don’t need excellent skill of swordsmanship to heal from a trauma, right? So does Nirrim. People in the Ward look at her as a hero and they get her back.

Our love interest, Sid, is a character everyone have been asking for. Again, with this book published in Women’s History Month, Sid is like a reminder that women can enjoy sex and there’s no shame in that. Sid breaks all the rules of how we should act in society. Yes, a woman can love fashion to death but it doesn’t mean her personality is cramped to one stereotypical thing only. Unlike Nirrim who is shy and naive, Sid is flirtatious, daring and humourous. We’ve already seen enough male protagonist with these traits; where they make fun of themselves to cover up their insecurities, as if no women with those traits exist, you know? The Midnight Lie is breaking all the stereotype about women and I love that.

The romance in The Midnight Lie isquickly progressed—but not in insta-love kind of love. Nirrim and Sid met in unfortunate circumstance where they instantly became friends. You know the feeling where you watch your two dumb friends fall for each other and everyone can see but them? That’s what I feel watching Sid and Nirrim with their mutual pinning. Alas, I love my babies, and I want you to love them too.


Overall, The Midnight Lie deserves 4.5 stars rating for me. I could have put a higher rating if only Rutkoski not shoving everything in the last few pages, but I think you’d love this book if you love friends to lovers, mutual pinning, excellent world building AND character driven book.


  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

🍂 Are you excited to read The Midnight Lie?
🍂 Have you read other Marie Rutkoski’s book?
🍂 Let me know in the comment section!

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