Saturday, June 1, 2019


Middlegame is a new fantasy / SF novel with some horror elements by Seanan McGuire. Released 7th May 2019 by Tor, it's a whopping 528 pages and available in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats. Paperback format presumably to be released at a later date.

I have read and enjoyed the author's Wayward Children series, so I was quite looking forward to this one as well. It's a standalone novel with a lot of interwoven plot-lines which orbit around the central theme of alchemical immortality. The science based magic system is creative and well designed. I was frustrated that the reader is basically just dropped in the middle of the plot and left to puzzle out and interpret the underlying mechanics themselves. There are quite a number of plot elements which are never fully explained and are left to the readers' interpretation.

There are some horrifying and potentially triggering elements. The experiments (matching pairs of psychically linked babies) are manipulated and planted like cuckoos into adoptive homes. They grow up unaware of what they are. The main plot elements revolve around one such pair Roger and Dodger.

The language is fairly rough, but generally speaking no more so than a lot of modern fiction. There are some discussions of suicide and self-harmwhich could be triggering for some readers.

The author is undeniably a gifted writer. The dialogue and plotting are well done. Whilst reading the book, I felt at the time that the book was a few hundred pages too long, but now after I've finished it, I can't see many places where it could have been trimmed down without significantly impacting the plot development and eventual denouement. It's a 'meaty' book.

Three and a half stars. It's a worthwhile read, but a significant investment in reading time.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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