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Middlegame (Alchemical Journeys, #1)
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(Alchemical Journeys #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  23,013 ratings  ·  4,571 reviews
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. Num
Kindle Edition, 492 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Publishing
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Alex Can Read There's a very specific reason given in the book for the matching names. Roger and Dodger are very different, very distinct characters given equal spa…moreThere's a very specific reason given in the book for the matching names. Roger and Dodger are very different, very distinct characters given equal space on the page and equal importance in the story. (less)

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chai ♡
find other reviews on my blog

It’s 3 am.

You hear a noise downstairs.

You go to investigate.

It’s me sitting at your kitchen table.

I ask you to sit down.

Slowly, reluctantly, you do.

I draw in a small, sharp breath and start telling you how the thought of this book still stirs such a storm in me—a thousand smithereens of joy and yearning and grief—all of it seething and bleeding and writhing. How the story settled like sediment in my mind, and, how it was days before I could pull my senses hom
Lala BooksandLala
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
October 2020
re-reading vlog:

April 2019
This synopsis had been taunting me for months. It's honestly just so well written I can barely stand it. For some reason I was hella nervous to actually get into this book. This was my first Seanan McGuire outside of (one of my favourite series of all time) The Wayward Children books, and I figured there's no way I could TRULY love an adult fantasy novel about science....and gods....right?

But slap my ass and call me Judy, if this
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
yup dis vvv good
Emily May
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, arc, sci-fi
“They grew up sort of weird and sort of wonderful and they found each other and lost each other over and over again. But this time, when they found each other, they came as close as they could to the Impossible City. They walked the length of the improbable road, and the girl wrote down everything she knew about the universe, and the boy read it all aloud, and everything was okay.”

Going into Middlegame, I don't think I actually considered that I might not like it. It didn't seem possible. I
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I admire the ambition and creativity with this story, but unfortunately I couldn't find myself attached to any of the characters and the stakes, and often found the writing to be convoluted and scattered. ...more
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, arcs-read
5-stars again. More importantly, my obsession is validated!!


It's time to reread one of my favorite books in preparation for the sequel, Seasonal Fears, being released!!

Original from 2019:

I'm officially a victim of Middlegame Mind Melt. Please send help. What the hell even is Middlegame, you may ask?

Honestly, I'm not quite sure.

I stared at the wall for a good 20-minutes after I finished just contemplating words and the meaning of life.

What a freaking achievement for Seanan McGuire?!

A tou
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
The author really has a knack for creating interesting worlds or powers and characters. Siblings linked by quantum entanglement? Powers worthy of gods? Powers linked to language and maths? I was really intrigued!

Having said that, I found myself not caring too much about the direction of this book. The world and goal seemed way too vague to me and I had to push myself to finish it as my interest dwindled the further I got into it.

I gave the audiobook a try and some of the voices were really not
Nilufer Ozmekik
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-m-intrigued
Im not the most religious person but I think I’m about to worship the intelligence, evil genius writing skills and visionary creation capabilities of this author! I want to read everything the author writes. I want to buy us best friends forever bracelets and be the most devoted, batshit crazy fan!

If you want to completely understand why i gave five stars this book! ( I’m also wearing t-shirt printed “Seanan McGuire is the best!” like a die-hard fan but don’t worry I alrea
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hate being proven wrong.

They say practice makes perfect, and it rarely happens to me, so I don't have the experience to be good at it. On the once-every-several-years occasions that it occurs, I will often try to smoothly change the subject in order to subvert having to say the second-most dreaded three words in the English language ("you were right"). That leads to situations where I go from arguing about whether Joe Exotic is still in prison to suddenly saying "have you been following that t
Chelsea Humphrey
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chelsea by: Publishing
"In the same ordinary town, on the same ordinary street, lived two ordinary children who had never quite managed to cross paths."

MR. HUMPHREY: "So what was this book about?"
ME: "Honestly, I couldn't tell you but I loved it."
MR. HUMPHREY: ......
ME: .......

Ok, but have you ever read a book that is so intellectually deep and intricately detailed in subject matter that you aren't well versed in, that you haven't got the first clue how to explain it to someone else? Honestly, that's how I feel about
This was still a good read, but I really am sad I didn't end up loving it more.

Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Blog | Spotify | Twitch

Trigger and Content Warnings for very descriptive gore, many scenes with blood depiction, murder, death, drug use, seizures, cutting, attempted suicide, overdosing, natural disasters (earthquakes), and loss of loved ones.

I read this for OWLs Magical Readathon 2020! ⚡

Buddy read with Melissa! ❤
The Artisan Geek
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

My review is up :D

Best book that I have ever read in my life. If you know me and if you've read the book you'll know why hahah. Either way, my review will be up on my channel soon! :)

Well, as I am typing this, I am looking at the arc of this book on my DESK. I AM INTERNALLY SCREAMING!!!!!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitch | Twitter | Tumblr | Website | The Storygraph
ELLIAS (elliasreads)
Am I dreaming or am I awake? I don’t know anymore.

It doesn’t matter.

Because in either case, I’m still forever going to dream about the improbable road to the Impossible City.

Amy Imogene Reads
5 reality-bending stars

How in the world do I write this review? The person who just finished this is both the person who started and simultaneously someone new. (A nod to the book, a nod to my feelings.) Middlegame is full of contradictions, belief, soul-forged truth, and an exploration on what we mean when we create myth.

Writing: ★★★★★
Concept: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★★ (It was only ★★ until I finished the book and reflected)
Execution of themes: ★★★★★

Middlegame is a novel for those of us who are lookin
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
ETA: This is too funny! Seanan McGuire is actually going to turn the Up-and-Under/Over the Woodward Wall element of this novel into a real book series!
I am so there for this.

4.5 stars for Seanan McGuire's latest novel! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature in a slightly different form, as a collaborative review with my friend and co-reviewer Jana. You should read our (excellent) joint review there! :D

James Reed and his assistant Leigh Barrow ―
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Son of a shit! I haven’t like nothing so far this year!! I’m starting to get cranky!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
“You can’t skip to the end of the story just because you’re tired of being in the middle. You’d never survive.”

Middlegame was a strange book which left me a bit torn. I really liked the middle of this story, its “middlegame” so to say - the journey through the lives of unfortunately named Roger and Dodger, but the resolution and all the alchemy framework and the Impossible City left me a bit cold.
“[…] Can anything really be ridiculous when your starting point is “we’re secret twins who
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Re-Read 1/17/22:

I don't really need to say anything else. I still loved this as much as the first read. It's exciting and fantastical and all the SF elements kicked butt. Or were they Fantasy? It hella doesn't matter. Alchemy is the big, big bad, and I'm all over it.

Original Review:

Oh, lordy! Big caveat coming. I'm already a devoted fanboy of Seanan and I read almost everything she ever comes out with no matter what because I trust her implicitly.


Nothing prepared me for this ambitious, thou
Sep 19, 2018 marked it as to-read
neither the threat of math nor the threat of twins are enough to keep me from wanting this book. only for you, mcguire...
Oct 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
1ish stars.

Sorry, not sorry. I don't feel like I need to justify why I dislike this so strongly, but I'll explain anyway in case anyone else is in the same boat and needs to be reassured they're not crazy (or at least not alone in their craziness).

I used to think I was a big Seanan McGuire fan, but I'm realizing I'm really just a big Wayward Children fan. I seriously love those books, but I haven't loved anything else written by her. I actually think all of the things I like about the Wayward C
The Burning Rose (Jess)
Definitely one of the best book descriptions.
Straight to my 2020 tbr.
Katie Colson
Mar 28, 2022 rated it it was amazing

Erin is THAT girl!

I loved this so much. I need to get a physical book to annotate cause the audiobook is not it sis. But it will do if you can’t get a hold of a book or, like me, don’t have the attention span to physically read 528 pages with your eyeballs.

I can’t wait to read more in this world. I just adore Seanad McGuire 💕
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)

I can’t even begin to explain the amount of skill needed to write a book like this. God, this is so imaginative and dark and horrifying and mind bending and weird. Seanan truly is one of the best writers out there.
3.5 stars
I recently read this for a video and I’m surprised how much I enjoyed this! This is definitely a bit out of my comfort zone, but I fell in love with these characters: Roger and Dodger.

I will say I enjoyed the first half more than the second half, and I wasn’t totally invested in the fantasy aspect of this book, I was pretty confused about the impossible city and I spent most of the second half of the book not understanding what was happening, but Roger and Dodger and their cute relatio
myo (myonna reads)
i have never fallen in love with a book as fast as i have with this one. as soon as i read the violent scene in the first chapter i was sucked in. everything from the chapters being out of order so the story is told on an inconsistent timeline to the mad alchemist in this book and most importantly the twins. i love their connection and how they were linked with each other, how they were smarter than everyone else but that didn’t make them smart at everything. how they were two halves of a whole. ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
The Reading Rush day 7: Read a book with a non-human main character.

★★★½ /5

This was amazingly weird!

I really enjoyed the storyline and premise itself of this novel; this was definitely unique and well written read. The characters were interesting, cleverly written, but not annoying and because of that it was easy to understand them and their motivations.

The plot itself was fascinating, but sometimes a little bit confusing. The story was layered and complex, it developed quickly and because of t
Gavin Hetherington
Mar 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022-reads
Read this for a video project on my YouTube channel, where I read some of my friends' favourite books and I had to like them or I would unsubscribe from their channel (l0l - it's all for fun, I swear). Check out my review of Middlegame here: ...more
Kayla Dawn
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this and tbh I'm still not entirely sure what was going on. What I do know is that I had a really good time. ...more
Lucy Tonks
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"You can't skip to the end of the story just because you're tired of being in the middle. You'd never survive."

Holy shit! Holy hell, what was this book? What the hell? What did I just read? This is such a complicated and mindfucking book. Okay, it has been like two weeks since I finished this book and only now I've made the courage to write this review.

TW: self-harm, suicide attempt.

I've read this book as slowly as I could to be sure that I understood everything that was happening. I'm sure th
Julie Zantopoulos
I have NO idea how to rate this book. Did I enjoy it? Did I understand it? I have no clue. I mean, I think I loved it but I legit have no clue if I even comprehended some of it. It felt way longer than it needed to be but maybe...maybe that time was necessary. I just...what? I will come back to this with quotes and thoughts but-just not now. I am sitting between a 3&4 but I’m so conflicted...maybe it’s a 5. I just...

Also, this book is super adult. Trigger warnings for murder, self-harm, suicide,
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Hi! I'm Seanan McGuire, author of the Toby Daye series (Rosemary and Rue, A Local Habitation, An Artificial Night, Late Eclipses), as well as a lot of other things. I'm also Mira Grant (, author of Feed and Deadline.

Born and raised in Northern California, I fear weather and am remarkably laid-back about rattlesnakes. I watch too many horror movies, read too many comic books, and

Other books in the series

Alchemical Journeys (2 books)
  • Seasonal Fears (Alchemical Journeys, #2)

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“You can't skip to the end of the story just because you're tired of being in the middle. You'd never survive.” 76 likes
“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one's looking, and words don't leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That's what makes them so powerful. That's what makes them so important.
That's what makes them hurt so much.”
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