...[an] ambitious piece of world building from a master of the craft ... Despite the careering, looping nature of the story line, the threads of these children finding their places in the world are thoroughly engaging. For all that this is a stand-alone, it contains enough potential for a series and certainly warrants, possibly demands, rereads.
Reed is a little flat. His assistant (a vicious, murderous, blood-spattered creature called Leigh who loves and hates Reed with equal ferocity) is the same. They're both mustache-twisting caricatures driven by non-specific hate and vengeance and not exactly, you know, 'rounded' ... But that's okay. Chills and narrative torque can be wrung out of characters like this by writers with chops enough to balance different motivational weights (see early Darth Vader, Moriarty, Blofeld), and McGuire absolutely has those skills ... has a complicated structure that demands some fairly close reading ... The narrative architecture really lands just to the sane side of experimental, and it is a tribute to McGuire's skills that it never actually feels all that complicated ... Opens out and takes on layers and a compelling seriousness that McGuire spent 400 pages building toward.
With such a dynamic author, it’s no surprise that McGuire continues to write books that defy genre norms. Middlegame is an exceptional example, told in engaging, cinematic prose ... The one hiccup in an otherwise brilliant book is the slower pacing, engendered by the fact that we know more than the characters do, and we’re waiting for quite some time for the characters’ knowledge to catch up. The book meanders its way through the twins’ childhood, giving us snapshots of their lives through the years. That being said, the payoff is satisfying for those who persevere.