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Seasonal Fears

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Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul. Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world. So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that w Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul. Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world. So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that will lead through untold dangers toward a possible lifetime together—walking down it seems to be the only option. But others are following behind, with violence in their hearts. It looks like Destiny has a plan for them, after all…. “One must maintain a little bit of summer even in the middle of winter.” —Thoreau


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Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul. Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world. So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that w Melanie has a destiny, though it isn’t the one everyone assumes it to be. She’s delicate; she’s fragile; she’s dying. Now, truly, is the winter of her soul. Harry doesn’t want to believe in destiny, because that means accepting the loss of the one person who gives his life meaning, who brings summer to his world. So, when a new road is laid out in front of them—a road that will lead through untold dangers toward a possible lifetime together—walking down it seems to be the only option. But others are following behind, with violence in their hearts. It looks like Destiny has a plan for them, after all…. “One must maintain a little bit of summer even in the middle of winter.” —Thoreau

30 review for Seasonal Fears

  1. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    Seasonal Fears is the long-awaited follow-up to Seanan McGuire's tour de force of SFF, Middlegame. When I originally read Middlegame in May of 2019, I had the understanding that it was a standalone novel. Since that time, to my complete delight, we have been blessed with two books from the companion series, The Up-and-Under, and now THIS!!! Seanan McGuire has blessed the world with her words. Literally blessed; life-changing, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring goodness. That's the best way to describe T Seasonal Fears is the long-awaited follow-up to Seanan McGuire's tour de force of SFF, Middlegame. When I originally read Middlegame in May of 2019, I had the understanding that it was a standalone novel. Since that time, to my complete delight, we have been blessed with two books from the companion series, The Up-and-Under, and now THIS!!! Seanan McGuire has blessed the world with her words. Literally blessed; life-changing, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring goodness. That's the best way to describe The Alchemical Journeys. In this second installment, we follow two new main characters: Melanie and Harry. They're a pair, much like Roger and Dodger from the first book, although Mel and Harry are not brother and sister. Nevertheless, Melanie and Harry are two sides of the same coin. They're also in love; teenagers completely devoted to one another. Melanie and Harry are in high school, living somewhat normal lives. Melanie has a chronic illness and is expected to die at any moment, but besides that, somewhat normal. When Melanie collapses one day at Harry's football practice and Harry, athletic as heck, suddenly collapses right along with her, they realize their connection may run deeper than they even imagined. Insight arrives with an unexpected guide who clues the pair in on the truth behind their lives and the greater world around them. Together the couple, along with their new friend, set out on a journey, one full of dangers and intrigue, in order to meet the destiny they didn't even know existed for them. Seasonal Fears is just as enjoyably mind-boggling as Middlegame. I was in no way disappointed by this. I'll also not pretend that I followed everything going on in this book. I recently reread Middlegame in preparation for this release and discovered even more to love on that second time through. I have no doubt this will be the same and that's right, I am already planning to reread this at some point. This series is the type of epic, complex SFF that you have to be cautious not to get too mired down in the details. Yes, of course it is important to pay attention, but I wouldn't take notes or anything. Trust McGuire will deliver you to exactly where you need to be. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Nothing more is required of you. Just know you may feel a little out of control from time to time, like it's losing you. Stay the course. You'll make it, you'll love it. McGuire doesn't just create a world in these books, she develops a whole new cosmology. It's stunning. I have no idea if there will be more books in this series, I certainly hope so. I definitely need more alchemical journyes in my life. Yes, please! Thank you to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I absolutely loved this. All the stars!!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    3 years long unbearable waiting is finally over! Second installment of the series blew my freaking mind as I expected! At some chapters: I got lost because of extreme complex rules of how the science, alchemy and magic blended to create the rules of the seasons! I got bombarded of how king and queen reign, at which months they sleep like as if they’re death, how hundreds of Ascendants and Incarnations fix the system , why the parallels are most dangerous and unexpected couple the other candidate 3 years long unbearable waiting is finally over! Second installment of the series blew my freaking mind as I expected! At some chapters: I got lost because of extreme complex rules of how the science, alchemy and magic blended to create the rules of the seasons! I got bombarded of how king and queen reign, at which months they sleep like as if they’re death, how hundreds of Ascendants and Incarnations fix the system , why the parallels are most dangerous and unexpected couple the other candidates should beware and who the hell were Jack the Frosts, Jack in the Greens, Stingy Jacks and Corn Jennies! My head is about to explode because I tried so hard to absorb how this entire system truly works ( I’m still not sure I understand each of the completely! ) Welcome to the universe of contenders who fight tooth and nail to become next Summer King and Winter Queen! I loved poor Melanie Cosgrove: fragile, delicate girl, suffering from heart disease, about to die anytime! And her 17 years old dedicated, football player lover Harry March who is adamant to take care of her. But their impossible love story takes another direction at the day both of them collapsed at the football yard. Did they die together? But Melanie opened her eyes, feeling more alive and stronger she’s never been before, running towards to see what happened to her boyfriend! Thankfully they won the war against the grim reaper even though Melanie’s heart stopped at the time she’s collapsed and now both of them started to turn something different. Their fainting was not a coincidence. It’s truly connected to the 300 years long winter king William Monroe’s duel with Diane ( Yeap, the one and only Diana she’s only seen a few chapters at the first book) Like a chain reaction their encounter not only affected Melanie and Harry’s lives, but also a girl who is attached to the IV tubes, captured in the basement! When Jack Frost achieves to reach to Melanie to tell the truths about her true nature without doctor father’s intervention, Melanie finds herself trapped in a car with her boyfriend and her new 13 years old Jack Frost as runaways to fulfill their destinies! But this is going to one of the wildest and bumpy ride with so many casualties! The blood shall run! Even though so many of the book confused the hell of me and burned my brain cells, too couldn’t put it down! I loved the characterization, complex world building, the cliffhanger at the end! I cannot compare this book with anything! This is outstandingly unique, intelligent, peculiar, one of a kind just like its author’s brilliant mind! I couldn’t give less than five stars to a book that explode my mind! It is SPECTACULAR! Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan- Tor / Forge for arc copy of this incredible book in exchange my honest thoughts.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maryam Rz.

    ARE YOU FUCKING. SERIOUS. *drops jaw* *drops lips* *drops teeth* *drops skull* *drops life* *aka dies until further notice being resurrection by Seanan McGuire’ alchemists in 2022* ARE YOU FUCKING. SERIOUS. *drops jaw* *drops lips* *drops teeth* *drops skull* *drops life* *aka dies until further notice being resurrection by Seanan McGuire’ alchemists in 2022*

  4. 5 out of 5

    emma

    I GOT AN ARC. I ONLY HAD TO WAIT 999,999 YEARS AFTER ALL. (thank you netgalley and co) ------------------- pretty classic that i would finally find one fantasy series i actually like and then have to wait a million years for the next book

  5. 5 out of 5

    Izzy

    seanan has given me a reason to live and breathe until 2022 and that is more than any other human in this planet could ever do * update: this wasnt It. at least not in the way i was expecting. i’ll have more thoughts written down at some point, but for now 3.5 as a rating will do.

  6. 5 out of 5

    The Artisan Geek

    23/7/20 MY. GOSH. The sequel to one of my all-time favourite books!! I AM SO HAPPY!!! Will be patiently waiting for the coming two years 🤗✨ You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website | The Storygraph 23/7/20 MY. GOSH. The sequel to one of my all-time favourite books!! I AM SO HAPPY!!! Will be patiently waiting for the coming two years 🤗✨ You can find me on Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website | The Storygraph

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    I really should say that I love this at the same level I loved Middlegame, the previous book. I should say that, but I may be a Summer Child. Seasonal Fears might outdo the other in my heart. The sharp characterizations, the deeply mythological feel, the worldbuilding (including the children's books by Baker (also McGuire)), and the freakishly delicious tale all wrap me up in a warm, warm blanket of goodness and kept me excited from the first to the last page. Mel and Harry were SO DELIGHTFUL. The I really should say that I love this at the same level I loved Middlegame, the previous book. I should say that, but I may be a Summer Child. Seasonal Fears might outdo the other in my heart. The sharp characterizations, the deeply mythological feel, the worldbuilding (including the children's books by Baker (also McGuire)), and the freakishly delicious tale all wrap me up in a warm, warm blanket of goodness and kept me excited from the first to the last page. Mel and Harry were SO DELIGHTFUL. Their love story was not only uncomplicated and pure and trusting and heartbreaking -- it was also extremely heartwarming. I don't see many books with two kids who are this pure and courageous and devoted to one another. Some people might think that would make for a boring book, but McGuire kills it. After all, she really knows how to torture her characters. Fire and Ice, baby. Fire and Ice. And on top of that, I'm a sucker for road trip books. Add the good, easy stuff together, add a little scale that might recall what happened in Middlegame, and know that in this game, everyone dies... and I just lose it. I lost it. I kept tearing up and freaking out and I was invested enough for three books. So yeah. I may love this book. Never a dull moment and even though it was really rough on me, I loved seeing these wholesome kids do their thing. *** oh yeah, and we do say hi to a few friends ***

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley ➽ Middlegame ★★★ Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley ➽ Middlegame ★★★ Blog | Instagram | Youtube | Ko-fi | Spotify | Twitch

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tor through Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own honest ones. Yet again, Seanan McGuire proves why she's in my list of top favorite authors. She writes a unique story, full of twists and turns, while building a world that is deep, developed, and believable. She made me care about these characters, just like in Middlegame, and root for them. She made me want to get more glimpses of the alchemical world. In this one, we follow Harry and Melan I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tor through Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own honest ones. Yet again, Seanan McGuire proves why she's in my list of top favorite authors. She writes a unique story, full of twists and turns, while building a world that is deep, developed, and believable. She made me care about these characters, just like in Middlegame, and root for them. She made me want to get more glimpses of the alchemical world. In this one, we follow Harry and Melanie as they learn that their future is a bit predetermined, and their journey to make that fate their own. Highly recommended for those who love Seanan McGuire, seasons, the supernatural, urban fantasy, and road trips. I'd also say it's probably best to read Middlegame first. There is some stuff revealed in this one that spoils the first book. That's your fair warning! I'm thinking there will be more in this world, so fingers crossed for another installment.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    I don't say this often, but this second volume was even better than the first! We meet Harry and Mel who have been best friends and in love all their lives. Harry, in fact, knew he'd want to marry Mel when he was 8. The problem is that Mel is sick. Her heart is failing her and she won't be around for long. That, however, doesn't sway Harry. Turns out, Mel's heart is not the problem since death isn't the end for either of the two lovebirds. Mel is the creation of an alchemist, while Harry is her na I don't say this often, but this second volume was even better than the first! We meet Harry and Mel who have been best friends and in love all their lives. Harry, in fact, knew he'd want to marry Mel when he was 8. The problem is that Mel is sick. Her heart is failing her and she won't be around for long. That, however, doesn't sway Harry. Turns out, Mel's heart is not the problem since death isn't the end for either of the two lovebirds. Mel is the creation of an alchemist, while Harry is her natural counterpart. You see, they both represent a season: Mel is winter, Harry summer. Well, not quite. They CAN be the respective season IF they win the crown. You still following? Because the kids kinda didn't. *lol* Which is why they have a Jack traveling with them. A Jack is a servant to a season and the one we meet in the beginning of this book is Jack Frost, Mel's servant. And boy, was she something! :D The rest is basically a road trip combined with elements from Mortal Kombat or The Hunger Games, which makes this one hell of a bloody drive through different parts of the US until we end - of course - in a labyrinth! Yes, this does take place in the same reality the first volume did. And yes, it follows the events of the previous book. And we absolutely re-meet Dodger and Roger and I LOVED that encounter! (view spoiler)[The effortlessness with which they have carved out a life for themselves and Erin was just as cozy as them making sandwiches or then coming back in the end to help Mel and Harry. (hide spoiler)] From the first page on, I shipped Mel and Harry. Hard. They were sweet and cute and absolutely devoted to one another. Their relationship was honest and they communicated and they were loyal beyond the shadow of a doubt. No unnecessary angst or drama. Nothing to yawn at, nothing boring - after all, they first have to worry about Mel's health and then about all their survival. It was just so wonderful reading about a true relationship, true love. A side-note: I very much appreciate how Harry was loyal and honest and emotionally as well as physically strong (quarterback) but hated violent conflicts and that despite (view spoiler)[summer's nature (hide spoiler)] . He wasn't "unmanly" - if anything, it made him MORE manly. Just like him letting Mel doing her own thing but just being there to have her back if she needed him. Equally, Mel wasn't just the fairytale-like pretty girl with the shocking/heartbreaking family history, but actually kick-ass. The antagonists were extremely well thought-out, too. Corn Jenny Trevor was what is wrong with many males in this world. Aven was the perfect a-moral villain while also being no more or less than what she was allowed to be. I cackled when (view spoiler)[all the concern I felt about what she would be able to do to Mel and Harry dissolved in a puff of smoke because she was sooo inadequate compared to her sister (hide spoiler)] ! If this is even possible, the writing in this installment was more beautiful, whimsical and fairytale-ish than in the author's other books. It was also fast-paced and very engaging and just all-around gorgeous. I'm in love! Of course I am. You can't dance with the seasons and come away unscathed.

  11. 5 out of 5

    karen

    looks like i have some time to read Middlegame. two years sounds fair. looks like i have some time to read Middlegame. two years sounds fair.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Uzma Ali

    I cannot in good conscience rate this any higher than 3 stars. I looked at some of the other reviews written by dedicated fans of Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame, and the lot of them were just happy that they got more lore in this fictional alchemical world. And I certainly enjoyed that aspect of it yes!! McGuire is still a wildly talented writer, but I was disappointed anyway. Middlegame (the companion novel to Seasonal Fears that came out before this one) literally rewired my brain and blew me out I cannot in good conscience rate this any higher than 3 stars. I looked at some of the other reviews written by dedicated fans of Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame, and the lot of them were just happy that they got more lore in this fictional alchemical world. And I certainly enjoyed that aspect of it yes!! McGuire is still a wildly talented writer, but I was disappointed anyway. Middlegame (the companion novel to Seasonal Fears that came out before this one) literally rewired my brain and blew me out of the water. Never have I ever been more confused with the puzzle of a novel that I kept turning the pages to learn just what the hell was going on. And the characters were so so lovable!! Dear god it was so good. In Seasonal Fears, I think the one thing that is just as well accomplished is McGuire’s brilliant characterization. In the first 50 pages, you already feel emotionally attached to the main characters, which is like… how do you do that?? Instead of Roger and Dodger, Melanie and Harry, two 17-year-old lovebirds, are the stars of the show. They’ve been friends (and progressed into lovers) ever since childhood since they lived in the same neighborhood. But on the night of their Valentine’s Day dance, they both drop dead on the football field, become resurrected, and learn about how closely their identities are tied into the fantastical world they never knew existed. Now, they must embark on a journey to compete for their positions as the living embodiments of Winter and Summer. Sounds awfully confusing, right? Ehhh… McGuire makes sure that you get what’s going on, and that’s honestly the biggest downfall of this novel. While Middlegame revealed only tiny bits and pieces of information about the rules of the world, so it’s more of a mindfuck once you reach the end, Seasonal Fears just explains everything to you. For pages on pages. And it’s overkill. All of this is basically done through one of the secondary characters whose purpose seemed to serve as just the world-builder. I guess she got a bit more depth later, but like… eh. There was just way to much exposition instead of actual action, or even just a more artful way of telling the story. It got tiring to me having to hear a different iteration of these rules just so that McGuire ensured the reader got it. Yeah, we got it. I do think Middlegame and Seasonal Fears work wonderfully as companion novels, as each book fills in some gaps that you may have missed from the other one. Seasonal Fears was still kinda fun to read, but after devouring the masterpiece that is Middlegame, it just really wasn’t the same. Idk.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Corina

    Middlegame was one of the coolest, most unique books I read last year, getting a sequel is more than awesome! Middlegame was one of the coolest, most unique books I read last year, getting a sequel is more than awesome!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    I am so disappointed in this book. There are several reasons for this, but chiefly, this was the preachiest book of hers I've ever read. McGuire has always been fond of telling the reader what to think by using her characters as a mouthpiece, like a woke Tolstoy. I don’t normally mind it because I tend to agree with her on things, but this time it was jarring and out of place practically every time. The middle of a rant about something completely unrelated (view spoiler)[how you and your late wi I am so disappointed in this book. There are several reasons for this, but chiefly, this was the preachiest book of hers I've ever read. McGuire has always been fond of telling the reader what to think by using her characters as a mouthpiece, like a woke Tolstoy. I don’t normally mind it because I tend to agree with her on things, but this time it was jarring and out of place practically every time. The middle of a rant about something completely unrelated (view spoiler)[how you and your late wife created children alchemically in order to make the perfect vessels to incarnate the seasons (hide spoiler)] is not the time to also let the readers know about how society expects a certain behaviour from women and this is really unfortunate. This happens a lot while the characters are monologuing. And I mean extremely often and out of the blue. They will tell you about the societal ramifications of what they look like or how much money they have, about gender and toxic masculinity... and about McDonalds being bad for the environment and companies getting away with aggravating climate change. She takes every single chance she gets to let you know how you should feel about everything. Like, yes, Seanan, we know we live in a society, but this is not the time. If you want to write an essay, do that. If you want to have a discussion about climate change in your story, make it about climate change. This was extremely heavy handed and obnoxious. My second problem was that this was YA. McGuire excels at middle-grade stories, and her adult books are also quite enjoyable, but I find her YA works to be the weakest by far. Her ideas, when wacky or didactic, play much better with younger protagonists, and when dark, much better with adults. This in-between limbo didn't work for either. In Middlegame we get to know both protagonists separately, as individuals with their own lives and struggles. In contrast, Mel and Harry are a unit. They're complementary in a way that feels unfinished and cliched, like they cease to exist when they're not in the same room together. The stakes are also exponentially lower this time. They master their brand new powers immediately with very few obstacles along the way, and the main antagonist (view spoiler)[doesn't even reach them until the very end and then gets defeated in a very anticlimactic way, which (hide spoiler)] is boring and disappointing. Middlegame is also a lot more graphically violent in a way that feels earned and necessary, and here the violence happens mostly out of frame or is completely unnecessary, which reduced its impact to almost nothing. (view spoiler)[In a way, this was like a reverse Romeo and Juliet: they were supposed to never end up together because Mel was going to die, but they are fated to be together forever because they are... seasonally complimentary. And you can tell from the beginning. You know they're going to win, and they lose absolutely nothing along the way because nobody really cares about Mel's father, the evil alchemist. Not even Mel. And don't get me started on her sister, the feral child with a one-dimensional personality. (hide spoiler)] What I did like about this book was the aesthetics. She created some beautiful imagery, even if the Battle Royale for the seasons set-up didn't really work for me. If you loved In an Absent Dream and really didn't like Beneath the Sugar Sky, you'll probably feel similarly about this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Hutchinson

    I loved Middlegame. Loved it. It's my favorite McGuire book out of all I've read. So I was excited to go another round in the world. Seasonal Fears just wasn't the same. The story idea was fantastic, but I felt like the plot got lost in the asides. Seasonal Fears felt like a novella padded into a novel. There was a lot of repeated exposition, and a lot of narrative commentary that just felt unnecessary. I love narrative commentary, and I love Seanan McGuire's commentary, but in this book it pull I loved Middlegame. Loved it. It's my favorite McGuire book out of all I've read. So I was excited to go another round in the world. Seasonal Fears just wasn't the same. The story idea was fantastic, but I felt like the plot got lost in the asides. Seasonal Fears felt like a novella padded into a novel. There was a lot of repeated exposition, and a lot of narrative commentary that just felt unnecessary. I love narrative commentary, and I love Seanan McGuire's commentary, but in this book it pulled me out of the narrative. The antagonist was one-note and disappointing. And I think a lot of the problems I had could've been resolved with a tighter focus on Harry and Mel. That said, I've also been really struggling with everything I've read and watched lately, so this may be a me problem and not a book problem. And either way, Seanan McGuire remains one of the most consistently wonderful authors I enjoy, so even if this one didn't quite work for me, I'm still eager for whatever they write next.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    Release Day! 5/3/22 This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 4.5 hearts Seasonal Fears is the second book in the Alchemical Journeys series following an entirely new cast of characters who have just been set on the road to become the living embodiment of Summer and Winter.  While you do not technically need to have read the first book to read this one, I think it is a g Release Day! 5/3/22 This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart Review copy was received from . This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 4.5 hearts Seasonal Fears is the second book in the Alchemical Journeys series following an entirely new cast of characters who have just been set on the road to become the living embodiment of Summer and Winter.  While you do not technically need to have read the first book to read this one, I think it is a good idea as some of the ideas and world building from the first book really play into this one.  Plus, Middlegame was one of my more unique and intriguing reads so you are really doing yourself a favor there. Melanie and Harry have been entwined for as long as they've known each other back when they were six and met.  They went from best friends to something more than friends, to being the couple who will have a tragic end before they can begin.  Melanie is the A Walk to Remember Fault in our Stars dying girl and Harry is the perfect boy in love with the girl who will leave him.  She will love him until the day she dies and he will love her long after that.  That was their story, that was their path until the King of Winter and the Queen of Summer died and set forth a new hope for them. Harry and Melanie now have a chance to claim the crowns of Winter and Summer and get to spend long years together doing all the things they never thought they'd make it to do.  One catch, there are other candidates on their way to run the labyrinth and it is a kill or be killed situation for some as there can be only one to win each crown and the rest are dead or as good as. This is a strange, unique and wonderful world, even if some of those in it are incredibly unkind.  Both Harry and Melanie are very likeable and you can't help but root for them to win.  Their journey is sometimes wonderful and other times terrible as they walk the improbable road to become what they were always meant to be. If you were a fan of Middlegame, I think you will also find something wonderful in this book to take with you.  Thankfully we also get to see what has happened to Roger and Dodger along with Tim, Kim and a few others since their story ended and I very much enjoyed that part, as it gave a bigger sense of closure to the first book. This isn't going to be for everyone.  That said this is definitely for me.  I loved the characters, the unique story and how a Summer boy and a Winter girl found their way to love each other and go on a journey to claim not a perfect life but an improbable one.  The only gripe I have was the ending was a bit rushed or anticlimactic after everything we'd been through with our crew.  But I'm hoping there will be futures stories set in this world and we can see where all the characters we love are at now. Narration: I like Amber Benson for this series.  She has a good voice for teens and while in Middlegame that didn't work well for her when the kids were adults the fact that most of the characters are late teens it really lends well to the overall story.  I was able to listen to this at my usual 1.5x speed Listen to a clip: HERE

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wilson

    3.5 stars I received this book from Macmillan/Tor via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because Middlegame was easily one of my favourite books of last year. Roger and Dodger's story has stayed with me since I read it. Seanan McGuire is also one of my favourite writers; her books are so lyrically written and incredibly diverse. I did enjoy this book a lot, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Middlegame, sadly. Let's start with what I liked. The embodiment of the s 3.5 stars I received this book from Macmillan/Tor via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because Middlegame was easily one of my favourite books of last year. Roger and Dodger's story has stayed with me since I read it. Seanan McGuire is also one of my favourite writers; her books are so lyrically written and incredibly diverse. I did enjoy this book a lot, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as Middlegame, sadly. Let's start with what I liked. The embodiment of the seasons was such a cool concept and McGuire wrote it beautifully. The battle for the crown was a clever idea and the way different people fought for the crown was so interesting. I adored the brief cameos that we got of the characters from the first book. I like that we got to see more of the Alchemists and some more backstory on Reed too. I loved Jack and Jenny and their role in the whole Coronation. They were probably the most interesting characters even though we didn't get to see a whole lot of Jenny. As with all of McGuire's books, this was beautifully written and was a joy to read even when not a whole lot was happening. I'm so interested to see how this series is going to tie together overall. A big part of what I didn't enjoy that was down to the over-explanation of the Seasons and the Coronation. I understand that McGuire wanted the reader to learn about the world, and there that there was a plot reason for the amount of explanation, but it just got so boring and tiring in the first 40% of this book when the same explanation happened over and over again. Very little else happened at the start of the book other than this. Mel and Harry were also a lot less interesting as characters as Roger and Dodger too, which pulled this down a little. I think part of it was that Roger and Dodger were so powerful and you didn't see what was happening to them until much later in the book, while this book was very straightforward and the character's didn't seem to have much power. Their romantic relationship also felt a little odd to me, mostly because it was pre-established so we never got to see them growing into their relationship together. The ending was also slightly lacklustre. I think this is probably my bad though because I assumed it would be as twisty and mind-blowing as Middlegame but it was overall a much slower paced book instead. I think if I hadn't had those expectations already, I would've enjoyed it more. Overall, this was a good installment in the series and if you like Seanan McGuire then you'll probably enjoy this book. I'm really looking forward to seeing where she takes this series next and I'll definitely still be picking up the next book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows)

    I should've listened to the lot of you telling me over and over and over again to read Middlegame. But did I? No. Did I know Seasonal Fears was the second book in the Alchemical Journeys series? Also, no. Did I listen to all 16+ hours anyways because it was absolutely fascinating? YES. I have no reference as to whether or not you need to read Middlegrade before this one. However, I am a big person who likes (and strives) to read series books in order (do I always succeed? clearly not). I do feel I should've listened to the lot of you telling me over and over and over again to read Middlegame. But did I? No. Did I know Seasonal Fears was the second book in the Alchemical Journeys series? Also, no. Did I listen to all 16+ hours anyways because it was absolutely fascinating? YES. I have no reference as to whether or not you need to read Middlegrade before this one. However, I am a big person who likes (and strives) to read series books in order (do I always succeed? clearly not). I do feel like this read very easily as a standalone. I do think that maybe I would've gotten a *little* more out of it had I read the first one? *shrug* But it's really hard to say. What I DO know is that McGuire is a freakin' genius and I love the world in SEASONAL FEARS. Two teens, in love and destined in their connection? Summer, Winter. Sometimes you just cannot stop what you're meant to be. Now, I admit wholeheartedly that I got lost a few times. There's SO much happening and it was hard to keep up at times. What with the various names and the intricacies of the seasons, etc. etc. I could go on and on and on about what I couldn't comprehend. But once I stopped thinking too hard about it and just accepted it, I could sit back and enjoy Benson narrating the story. I definitely need to go back and read Middlegame. And I hear there's a rumor there's going to be more books in this series so count me on that train ride!! Also, please give me a one way ticket into Seanan's brain please and thank you.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Leanne

    This wasn't bad at all, but it was nowhere near as good as Middlegame :( This wasn't bad at all, but it was nowhere near as good as Middlegame :(

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn Hogan

    I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley. Sigh. I love Seanan McGuire. Her Wayward Children series is consistently delightful, and her horror writing under the name Mira Grant is visceral and sharp. But this needed at least one more pass from an editor. Now, I know it's only a galley, but the continuity errors were glaring and frustrating. The biggest offender is all of the stuff about William Monroe. See, this is in the same world as Middlegame, meaning it's also very concerned with f I received a digital ARC of this book from Netgalley. Sigh. I love Seanan McGuire. Her Wayward Children series is consistently delightful, and her horror writing under the name Mira Grant is visceral and sharp. But this needed at least one more pass from an editor. Now, I know it's only a galley, but the continuity errors were glaring and frustrating. The biggest offender is all of the stuff about William Monroe. See, this is in the same world as Middlegame, meaning it's also very concerned with fundamental aspects of the world being embodied by people. About every hundred years, Summer and Winter get new human hosts. Or that's how it's supposed to work. When the novel begins, it's been closer to three hundred years since new hosts were chosen. This is because William Monroe the current king of (undetermined season) was keeping the crown from changing hands by imprisoning his opposite number. But the story cannot remember what season Monroe embodied! When we first meet him, he's just become the Winter King. But he's also called the Summer King, and Harry, the male lead, speaks to the actual force of Summer and he remembers being William Monroe! This is such a blatant screw up that it cost this book a star. I also felt that the leads were under-characterized. Melanie is sick, Harry is rich, they're in their late teens and super duper in love. But I felt that the consistent harping on how in love they are was sort of overkill. It took away from time that could be spent with other characters, like Melanie's long lost sister Aven, who is one of McGuire's manic pixie monster girls. Aven barely feels like a threat, when she really should be. The book is also inexcusably repetitive. It's like McGuire can't keep track of what her characters know and when they learn it, so we get expositioned to death, and I constantly found myself thinking, didn't we already learn that? Couple other things that irritated me, since I might as well finish what I've started. Most of the chapters begin with excerpts from the in universe book series staring Avery and Zib. I wouldn't mind this if the excerpts seemed to be somehow related to the main story, but they didn't feel like that to me. Also, McGuire has/is actually writing those novels, so I felt like useful in story information is actually in other books. And finally, the end of Harry and Melanie's quest is such an anticlimax. They reach the magic labyrinth and have to prove themselves to take the crowns. Which involves just... talking to the forces of Summer and Winter. They have a friendly chat and the seasons are like "sure, you guys are great." We don't even see Melanie talk to Summer. I don't want to give the impression that this was a bad book. But it isn't nearly as good as Middlegame. Also, I get the feeling that this is going to become a series, and maybe this one was necessary to set up whatever comes next? Anywho, I didn't hate it, but it's much weaker than I was expecting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    1) Middlegame ★★★★★ Me: I hate getting older Seanan McGuire: I'm writing a sequel to Middlegame that will be published in 2022 Me: I can't freakin wait to turn 30 1) Middlegame ★★★★★ Me: I hate getting older Seanan McGuire: I'm writing a sequel to Middlegame that will be published in 2022 Me: I can't freakin wait to turn 30

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    EXCUSE ME, I'm over here dying from happiness. (My review of Middlegame here.) Blog | Instagram EXCUSE ME, I'm over here dying from happiness. (My review of Middlegame here.) Blog | Instagram

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Tonks

    How did I know know there was a cover and a sypnopsis?! I need this book 😭 I don't want to wait until 2022. Middlegame was one of the best book I've probably ever read. It was just genius! How did I know know there was a cover and a sypnopsis?! I need this book 😭 I don't want to wait until 2022. Middlegame was one of the best book I've probably ever read. It was just genius!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittany (Britt's Book Blurbs)

    Thanks to NetGalley & Tordotcom for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. 4.5 stars Much easier to get absorbed into than Middlegame , Seasonal Fears starts off on an insane adventure right from the very beginning. I absolutely loved Middlegame (after a rocky start), so I was afraid to move on to Seasonal Fears and leave Roger & Dodger behind. (view spoiler)[Thankfully, they're not completely abandoned - I was so relieved to get to c Thanks to NetGalley & Tordotcom for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. 4.5 stars Much easier to get absorbed into than Middlegame , Seasonal Fears starts off on an insane adventure right from the very beginning. I absolutely loved Middlegame (after a rocky start), so I was afraid to move on to Seasonal Fears and leave Roger & Dodger behind. (view spoiler)[Thankfully, they're not completely abandoned - I was so relieved to get to catch up with them in their crazy house and get some final closure on their time loop. (hide spoiler)] Luckily, Melanie and Harry are sweet, innocent protagonists - the perfect vessels to be corrupted by alchemists and the dark, hidden world around them. Their love story is this beautiful undertone to a lot of horrific actions. After getting caught up in this undertow over which they have absolutely no power, it's all they can do just to stay alive. While this is a familiar concept for Melanie, who has lived under a death sentence for as long as she can remember, Harry has lived a pretty charmed life. If there's a chance he can save his girlfriend from this death sentence, though, he will do anything. "Bone-white, bleach-white, white as the driven snow. Her lips seem terribly red against the pallor of her skin, and her eyes are very blue, and she would be beautiful if she weren't so entirely terrible. She is the ghost of a girl, and not a girl at all." I am so thankful that I received Seasonal Fears as an ARC - it introduced me to one of my now favourite series and took me on a seriously dark and creepy adventure. Is it weird to say I'm already looking forward to rereading this series in the future? Review originally posted here on Britt's Book Blurbs. Amazon | Blog | Bookstagram | Reddit

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alina Vale

    AAAAA THE COVER IS HERE ALREADY IM GETTING TOO EXCITED

  26. 5 out of 5

    Marta Cox

    Well what can I say that will do justice to this impressive follow up to Middlegame ? Such a unique world that the author has given us with the seasons being integral to the story. A race that was both surprising, violent and at times astounding as we meet both new and indeed old characters. The magic in play actually starts to make sense and honestly I did not fully expect that ! I did expect to get behind our intrepid couple who accept a death that most would run screaming away from. I loved t Well what can I say that will do justice to this impressive follow up to Middlegame ? Such a unique world that the author has given us with the seasons being integral to the story. A race that was both surprising, violent and at times astounding as we meet both new and indeed old characters. The magic in play actually starts to make sense and honestly I did not fully expect that ! I did expect to get behind our intrepid couple who accept a death that most would run screaming away from. I loved the use of side characters as they ( well particularly she ) added much needed humour and snark. This world is wholly unique, this story was gripping and I am definitely not disappointed. This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair

  27. 4 out of 5

    ☕️Kimberly

    Sean McGuire dazzled me with the Middlegame where we met Roger and Dodger (language and math) and this time, she tells us about the Summer and Winter courts. Her lyrical prose begins with the fall of the current king and queen. This is a story best savored as we learn about the seasons and kingdom when the summer king sleeps and the winter queen reigns. We learn about candidates who awaken when a new king or queen is needed. There are Jack Frosts and Corn Jennies who aid these contenders for the Sean McGuire dazzled me with the Middlegame where we met Roger and Dodger (language and math) and this time, she tells us about the Summer and Winter courts. Her lyrical prose begins with the fall of the current king and queen. This is a story best savored as we learn about the seasons and kingdom when the summer king sleeps and the winter queen reigns. We learn about candidates who awaken when a new king or queen is needed. There are Jack Frosts and Corn Jennies who aid these contenders for the throne. This science fiction fantasy is brilliant, complex, well developed, and downright magical. I am always left in awe of McGuire’s mind and her magic with the written word. As we learned in Middlegame, there are always those who hope to take advantage and bend the outcomes in their favor. In Seasonal Fears we meet Melanie Cosgrove, a fragile teenage girl with a weak heart and protective father who shelters her even from the Jack Frosts who seek her out. We also meet Harry March, a young boy who is as drawn to her as he is to the summer sun. He is a football player, and she is his biggest fan. The two are in love but as winter falls, so does Mel and to save her, Harry will have to believe the impossible and accept his fate. I loved the race, battles and folks we met along the way as Harry and Mel run away or perhaps towards their destiny. They are traveling with Mel’s Jack Frost, but where is Harry’s Corn Jennie? A wicked game is a foot, one without rules until they reach the court. They aren’t the only ones hoping to fulfil their destiny and for the losers; it means the end of the road. Our young couple will be tested as the seasons call to them, but a little help from Roger and Dodger will steer them in the right direction. From the world-building to the outside threats, I was enthralled. We learn about Mel’s parents and their intentions. We meet those involved in the courts and the rules of who reigns and how. Someone wants to be Mel’s partner on the throne and will stop at nothing to succeed. There is so much I want to discuss, but will leave you to unfold the story on your own. I confess I re-read a few chapters before moving on just to be sure I understood this complex world. McGuire writes stories that are original and ones you’ll want to read again and again. I have already grabbed the audio versions as this is a series I will want to revisit. If you love McGuire’s Wayward Children series, you’ll want to devour the Alchemical Journals. You’ll discover romance, suspense, magic and a world as intriguing as the characters who reside there. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    2,5 stars :(( I'm so disappointed. Nothing really happened in this book. It was just a lot of talking, driving around, Mel screaming, Harry being oh such a charming and perfect and wonderful boyfriend, more talking and explaining, Mel and Harry being perfect, even more explaining, and then a very anti-climatic ending. Have I already mentioned how much I dislike Harry and Mel? They have absolutely no personalities whatsoever. He was constantly looking down on other people even when he was the one 2,5 stars :(( I'm so disappointed. Nothing really happened in this book. It was just a lot of talking, driving around, Mel screaming, Harry being oh such a charming and perfect and wonderful boyfriend, more talking and explaining, Mel and Harry being perfect, even more explaining, and then a very anti-climatic ending. Have I already mentioned how much I dislike Harry and Mel? They have absolutely no personalities whatsoever. He was constantly looking down on other people even when he was the one who had no idea what was going on. He made me so angry! I didn't enjoy these characters at all. I am very thankful to NetGalley for providing me with an e-arc for this book. I loved middlegame so much and couldn't wait to read seasonal fears. Which makes this even harder to write :(

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chantal

    This is a hard review to write. I was so excited to receive an ARC because Middlegame by the same author was a favorite last year and I was ready for more alchemical adventures with familiar characters. Unfortunately, this wasn’t it. This is a story about a boy and a girl in love who find themselves on a journey to claim the power of Summer and Winter respectively. What does this mean? Honestly, it’s very unclear and as a companion novel it is only very loosely related to its predecessor. I feel This is a hard review to write. I was so excited to receive an ARC because Middlegame by the same author was a favorite last year and I was ready for more alchemical adventures with familiar characters. Unfortunately, this wasn’t it. This is a story about a boy and a girl in love who find themselves on a journey to claim the power of Summer and Winter respectively. What does this mean? Honestly, it’s very unclear and as a companion novel it is only very loosely related to its predecessor. I feel like the author spent an entire book (Middlegame) dedicated to creating a strikingly complex world revolving around a collection of very specific concepts then abandoned much of that background work for a completely new and different area of the same world that involves other, even more difficult to understand concepts. If you found that sentence hard to read then I’m making my point. “You keep using words and terms like we’re supposed to understand them, and that doesn’t mean we do” says a character fairly early on and this quote beautifully sums up my overall feelings. I’m struggling to fairly give this 3 stars because while I did finish it I had no idea what was going on most of the time and to be honest this is more in the range of 2.5. I truly hope that with some aggressive editing the published version of this book will be infinitely more readable. Disclaimer: I received this ARC from @netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Pub date May 03, 2022

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennie

    TL;DR: A strange followup to a masterpiece that doubles down on lore at the expense of the character work that made book 1 (eARC provided by Netgalley) For all its promise, I think Seasonal Fears ends up taking the wrong aspects of Middlegame to run wild with. This book is absolutely swallowed in explanations and lore, some of it repeated and occasionally even possibly contradictory (very hard to tell), and the characters get lost in it all. Mel feels underserved (and Aven even more so), while I j TL;DR: A strange followup to a masterpiece that doubles down on lore at the expense of the character work that made book 1 (eARC provided by Netgalley) For all its promise, I think Seasonal Fears ends up taking the wrong aspects of Middlegame to run wild with. This book is absolutely swallowed in explanations and lore, some of it repeated and occasionally even possibly contradictory (very hard to tell), and the characters get lost in it all. Mel feels underserved (and Aven even more so), while I just don't think Harry is deep enough for the focus he gets. Middlegame was so rooted in Roger and Dodger, but here the protagonists feel incidental - and that goes too for reappearing characters who feel like flattened versions of themselves. So much of the dialogue is quippy without feeling witty, even when there is genuine charm and chemistry. I am particularly disappointed by where this all ends up ideologically: it feels like a complete overhaul of how Middlegame approached power (and the lack of racial diversity, already a problem in book 1, feels extremely egegrious here). This is a harsh review for a book that does have a sense of style and imagination, but this honestly makes me feel less inclined to revisit Middlegame, which is really tragic. I will stick around for future instalments, but my excitement has taken a massive blow. Rating breakdown 2.5 stars rounded up to 3 3/10 in personal rating system

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