Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Beware of alchemists, if alchemy is real in your universe. It can permit access to unlimited power, and while power might not corrupt, it can reveal deeply corrupt personalities.
This long but never slow novel centers around two people, not corrupt, who were created as a very corrupt alchemist’s experiment to manipulate the universe. What could go wrong? In Seanan McGuire’s capable hands, a lot. Human beings, even artificial ones, resist control. They will resist before they know what they are, and they will resist even harder after they find out what they can do.
From the first page, the story is told with urgent, evocative prose. “Timeline: five minutes too late, thirty seconds from the end of the world. There is so much blood.” Exactly what too late means becomes more clear as the story develops and adds successive layers of complications and depth.
This novel won major awards and nominations for a reason. It might break your heart — and it might make your heart full. Spoiler: it is not the end of the world. This time.
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