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.
... beautiful and strange prose ... The alchemical part of Middlegame, Asphodel and Reed’s actual powers and intentions, is never quite clear. But McGuire’s writing style is so strong and interesting that plot holes and some world-building weaknesses are easily forgiven ... imaginatively conceived, carefully constructed, fantastically written and offers such thoughtful insights on themes like love, power, sacrifice and intelligence. Roger and Dodger are compelling and fully human as children and young adults, navigating the world as often lonely prodigies. They are fascinating and fearsome as mighty, dynamic and preternatural pawns in an ultimate struggle. When the story and context falter a bit, McGuire’s characters --- the twins and Erin --- do the heavy lifting and keep the novel fun and engaging ... another delightful and captivating outing from Seanan McGuire.
McGuire juggles the narrative back-and-forth expertly. The story switches perspective as well ... It might sound confusing— and if it was even a little less well-executed, it would be—but again, McGuire deftly shifts from POV to POV without missing a beat ... There’s a fantastic through thread that involves excerpts of [a] children’s book—titled Over the Woodward Wall—and serves as a lovely companion to the narrative. It’s a lovely continuing detail that seasons the rest of the story just beautifully. One of the smartest choices in a book full of smart choices ... [The protagonists] are compelling, fully-realized characters about whom we are invited to care—their honest interplay is as magical as anything in the book ... It has been a while since I read a work of genre fiction that resonated with me quite like Middlegame did. The complexity of the world building is impressive, with a real depth of thoughtful detail. It’s stylistically challenging in the best way, making the actual reading experience all the more engaging.