Memory and illusion, truth and lies—all paths lead to heartbreak in this first of a fantasy duology.
“It is as it is.” That’s always the response in isolated Herrath when anyone questions the oppressive caste system. Once that was enough for Nirrim, who is plagued by visions of a different past; but after meeting the cocky, nosy, and confusingly attractive traveler Sid, Nirrim discovers how dangerous it can be to want. Set some 20 years later in the same world as Rutkoski’s acclaimed The Winner’s Trilogy, the baroque (almost purple) prose begins in medias res, which Nirrim’s naively unreliable narration does little to clarify. Although clever and kind, her passivity and desperate neediness make brown-skinned, green-eyed Nirrim an atypical YA heroine. While fans of the earlier books will easily guess her secrets, dark-eyed, fair-haired Sid presents at first as careless, arrogant, and as confident in her sexuality as Nirrim is shocked by Sid’s attraction to other women. But this facade eventually proves to be another “midnight lie”: a truth intended to mislead. When their almost instantaneous mutual desire develops quickly into a prickly friendship and (discreetly) consummated romance, both acknowledge it cannot last. Yet the relationship’s development—combined with the genuinely shocking revelation of Herrath’s history—leads Nirrim to a horrific choice…one that will leave readers clamoring for the next entry.
Lush, swoony, painful, enraging, and as cathartic as a good cry. (Fantasy. 14-18)