Author: Seanan McGuire
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Age Range: Adult
Genre(s): Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror
Source: NetGalley, Audible
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Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.
Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.
Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.
Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.
Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.
TW/CW: very descriptive gore,murder/death, drug use (smoking depicted, other drug use mentioned), cutting, attempted suicide, natural disasters (earthquakes), and loss of loved ones.
Ah, I feel so accomplished. This is a book I’ve been putting off for far too long and ah I finally read this one. The main thing that put me off this book was the fact that no one seemed able to describe the plot and a lot of people said this book was confusing.
After reading it, I definitely agree that it’s hard to describe this book, but that’s mostly because you need to spoil like half the book to accurately discuss what’s going on. Part of this is because there are a couple of different plot lines that intersect.
“You can’t skip to the end of the story just because you’re tired of being in the middle. You’d never survive.”
The book is told in a non-linear structure that allows for some really cool storytelling devices. The book starts at the end of the timeline, where Roger and Dodger have presumably lost something due to Dodger being covered in blood. We then jump back to the past where A. Deborah Baker is finishing up a creation, an Frankenstein’s monster analog made up of various donors, tasked with the goal of completing Baker’s work. We then jump forward 100 years to where Reed is on the verge of completing Baker’s work and aims to split the Doctrine of Ethos and personify it in a set of twins with to goal of ascending to godhood. The book then follows Roger and Dodger throughout their life as the figure out their role in this alchemic quest. Oh, and there are also snippets of Over the Woodward Wall, a book written by Baker with a deeper connection to the overarching narrative.
“Words can be whispered bullet-quick when no one’s looking, and words don’t leave blood or bruises behind. Words disappear without a trace. That’s what makes them so powerful. That’s what makes them so important.
That’s what makes them hurt so much.”
I was pleasantly surprised by how easy this book was to consume. I listened to the audiobook and followed along with a digital copy and found myself flying through the story. I purposely took some breaks to make sure I didn’t rush through anything and allowed myself to fully consume the story.
I really liked how the story was spliced between Roger and Dodger growing up and discovering their connections to each other and showing some behind the scenes with Reed. There were some genuinely touching moments and some really sad moments.
I think my only complaint about this book is that it really dragged in some places. I found myself very aware of how long this book was, especially when I felt like things were supposed to be wrapping up, but I was only like 60% of the way through the book.
I was pleasantly surprised with how this book ended. It was just open enough to not feel like everything was wrapped in a nice little bow, but still felt like the major points were resolved.
This was a super fun, compelling story that explored some really dark aspects of alchemy. I was shocked at how downright creepy some chapters got. The amount of control Reed has over the characters allows for some huge stakes and compelling conflicts. Roger and Dodger were both so likable and were really easy protagonists to route for. I really don’t have much to say about this book without going into more spoilers, but I also really don’t want to spoil this book. I am so excited to get to Over the Woodward Wall now. I am craving Zib and Avery’s story and seeing how much of this tale overlaps with Rogers and Dodgers. The lovely people at Tor were kind enough to send me an eARC and I am diving in right away.