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Middlegame by Seanan McGuire.jpg
AuthorSeanan McGuire
PublisherTor Books
Publication date
7 May 2019
Pages528 (Hardcover)
Awards2020 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel

Middlegame is a 2019 science fantasy/horror novel by Seanan McGuire. It was first published by Tor Books.


Roger Middleton and Dodger Cheswich discover that not only are they twins separated at birth, they are the creation of alchemist James Reed, whose plan for world domination relies on Dodger's superhuman mathematical abilities and Roger's superhuman language abilities.


Middlegame won the 2020 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel,[1] and was a finalist for the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel.[2]

Paste called it "clever and imaginative ", with "memorably menacing" antagonists, and compared it to the work of Lev Grossman.[3]

National Public Radio considered Reed to be "a little flat", and further described him and his assistant Leigh as "mustache-twisting caricatures driven by non-specific hate and vengeance and not exactly, you know, rounded," but overall praised the book's "complicated structure that demands some fairly close reading", noting that due to "McGuire's skills (...) it never actually feels all that complicated."[4]

Publishers Weekly lauded it as "genuinely innovative", "mesmerizing", and the work of "an author of consummate skill", emphasizing that the story's mutable timeline "demand(s) close attention from readers".[5]

Kirkus Reviews described it as "thrilling, emotionally resonant, and cerebral", and "Escape to Witch Mountain for grownups", but observed that "it isn't clear" how Reed's plan was intended to work, nor why his followers believe he would share power with them.[6]

Related works[edit]

Middlegame contains several excerpts from Over the Woodward Wall, a fictitious children's novel purportedly written by the equally-fictitious 19th-century alchemist A. Deborah Baker; a complete version of Over the Woodward Wall (written by McGuire) was published in October 2020.[7]

Seasonal Fears, a second novel set in the world of Middlegame, is scheduled to be published in May 2022.[8]


  1. ^ Announcing the 2020 Locus Awards Winners, by Andrew Liptak, at Tor.com; published June 27, 2020; retrieved July 16, 2020
  2. ^ 2020 Hugo Awards, at TheHugoAwards.org; retrieved July 16, 2020
  3. ^ Seanan McGuire's novel Middlegame Is an Alchemical Delight, by Josh Jackson, in Paste; published June 5, 2019; retrieved July 16, 2020
  4. ^ 'Middlegame' Makes Mathematical Magic, by Jason Sheehan, at National Public Radio; published May 16, 2019; retrieved July 16, 2020
  5. ^ Middlegame, reviewed at Publishers Weekly; published March 20, 2019; retrieved July 16, 2020
  6. ^ MIDDLEGAME, by Seanan McGuire, reviewed at Kirkus Reviews; review posted online February 28, 2019; retrieved July 16, 2020
  7. ^ Announcing Over the Woodward Wall, a New Fantasy Series from Seanan McGuire, at Tor.com; published July 1, 2019; retrieved July 16, 2020
  8. ^ Revealing Seanan McGuire’s Seasonal Fears, the Follow-up to Middlegame, at Tor.com; published August 17, 2021; retrieved August 18, 2021