Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Narrator: Amber Benson
Series: Alchemical Journey #1
Published by Tor.com Publishing on May 7, 2019
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 17h 30m
Pages: 492
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble
Add to: Goodreads

New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy.
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


I picked up the audiobook for Middlegame by Seanan McGuire on a whim. I thought the cover was interesting, the premise was interesting, and I really wanted to read non YA fantasy/magic realism. Plus, I needed something to listen to/read while at work. I never expected to be so blown away. This was a wildly enjoyable and emotional ride that had me instantly pick up the second in the series, as well as the companion series.

The beginning of Middlegame was so jarring. I had tears in my eyes in the middle of my work day and was furiously trying A) not to cry and B) to make sure I hadn’t accidentally skipped ahead in the story. McGuire hits you at 100 right at the start, reminding you that this book is called MIDDLEgame for a reason – everything has already been set in motion and we are here just to see it watch it play out. After that initial hit, pacing is steady. Tension builds as we see how Roger and Dodger get to this middle we began with. It is steady and builds until finally we get back to that shock situation. It is such a good technique to remind readers what is at stake, what is coming up.

Characters drive the plot forward. Roger and Dodger have my entire heart. They have so much power but are, ultimately, just children. Just a pair of twins desperate to be with one another and just live – be happy. The heartbreak they inflict on each other is palpable, bringing me tears each and every time, my mind just screaming for these characters to understand what is happening. Despite being literally concept characters, Roger and Dodger have so much personality and are so well fleshed and in seeing them be so well developed, we realize the flaw in James Reed’s master plan. Speaking of James Reed, despite being a villain, I absolutely loved him. He became a bit more stereotypical/cartoony towards the end of the novel, but he was still so good. I would love a book focused on him, starting from View Spoiler ».

One of the most impressive feats of the novel is the worldbuilding. You can easily tell that McGuire knows this world, inside and out, which makes sense considering she’s written a companion series based off of the ‘children’s books’ mentioned in Middlegame. I am beyond excited to start reading the Up-and-Under series to see how it mirrors the Alchemical Journeys series.

Now, the one thing that kept me from giving this a complete 5 stars is the ending. I have to be vague for obvious reasons, but it was definitely a personal irk – one of the potential decisions they think of taking. I might just have to do a spoiler talk to go more in depth but honestly, that one irk might just be me.

Would I recommend Middlegame by Seanan McGuire? 100% Absolutely! This is an amazing fantasy/magic realism novel set in an incredible world that is well-written and emotional.


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