Writer(s): Seanan McGuire.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: May 7th 2019.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★★.
Once in a while, you stumble upon a story where the pieces of the puzzle perfectly fit together as you read, voraciously flipping through the book one page at a time. These authors call upon their imagination to come up with ideas that readers have never seen before and immerse them in worlds they would have never dared to think of in their lives. While the Gods of inspiration might not have lent a hand whenever they needed it, it is through ambitious ideas in which they profoundly believe that they can tell such a story without having their readers frowning through the process. There is, however, a good chance that the risk they take backfires and invites regrets in decisions taken, but what is life without a leap of faith to find out for yourself? Seanan McGuire attempts one of the most ambitious story-telling experiment in her latest writing endeavour as she presents fans with an incredibly original and mesmerizing story that will surely have many whispering of its existence for countless years to come.
What is Middlegame about? This stand-alone fantasy story presents readers a world where the art of alchemy allows the creator to achieve the impossible and amoral. In an interwoven narrative that alternates between different point of views and timelines, two key characters are allowed to mature before our eyes while they remain unaware of the master plan that roams above their heads. First comes Roger with his proficiency with words and his understanding of the power of stories and then comes Dodger, his twin sister, who showcases expertise with numbers and a belief in the power of numbers. Living in foster families far from one another within the United States, they one day discover through the forces of quantum entanglement that their minds are connected to one another and that maybe they weren’t really always alone in life. Be that as it may, the more they exploit their hidden connection, the more they defy their destiny, a destiny manipulated by a young alchemist who wants to complete the Doctrine of Ethos that may allow its wielder to attain godhood.
Seanan McGuire’s latest novel is a sterling example of a one and only reading experience. With a premise structured around a Greek doctrine, the story builds itself from the ground up the tragic lives of two individuals who were split from another yet meant to be next to each other. With no intent to ever divulge any sign of narrative linearity, the story resembles a complex mosaic requiring the undivided attention of its readers in order to fully grasp the twisted and unfamiliar path that Seanan McGuire guides you through. Kicking off the story with its ending, teasing her readers with clues through the form of various quotes interspersed before each chapter and alternating point of views hinting us towards the motives behind the brains that are puppeteering this incredible scheme, the story unfolds in the most unpredictable fashion. But this story wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for the characterization of its protagonists and the bond that they share. Complemented by its unstable pacing, Seanan McGuire thus delivers a hypnotizing prose filled with love, hate, understanding, and rage through her two characters.
Roger and Dodger served as the perfect vessel to tell this story from cover to cover. With each of them feeling alone in the world and surviving the various obstacles as best as they could, the sudden discovery of another person who understands them and makes them feel whole brings into play new emotions that ultimately influence the way they live and move forward. While they each possess an incredible personality, it is the connection that they form together and how they face the threats that watch over them that makes their characters so interesting and expressive. Although a lot of credit can be given to the story’s direction, its premise, its structure, and its characters, it should be noted that Seanan McGuire’s writing style is what allows this stand-alone story to hence thrive and stun her readers by the end of this wild ride.
Middlegame is a visionary tale that blends together rationality and emotions through a powerful reading experience that will leave you breathless by the end of the road.
Thank you to Raincoast Books Canada and Tor.com for sending me a copy for review!