May 13, 2024

Seanan McGuire: "Tidal Creatures" (ARC Review)

Title: Tidal Creatures [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: Alchemical Journeys (3rd of 5 books)
Author: Seanan McGuire [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural
Year: 2024
Age: 16+ (the book is geared towards adults, but can be read by mature teens)
Stars: 5/5
Pros: Fascinating concept. Rich mythology. Characters who transcend the page.
Cons: Complex. On the other hand, the murder-mystery part isn't hard to figure out, once you have the necessary information.
WARNING! Some gruesome deaths/imagery (people melting included).
Will appeal to: Those who loved Book 1 in the series and were less keen on Book 2. Those who need more Roger and Dodger. Those who enjoy a creative, exciting twist on gods incarnate and the heart of creation. 

Blurb: All across the world, people look up at the moon and dream of gods. Gods of knowledge and wisdom, gods of tides and longevity. Over time, some of these moon gods incarnated into the human world alongside the other manifest natural concepts. Their job is to cross the sky above the Impossible City - the heart of all creation - to keep it connected to reality. And someone is killing them. There are so many of them that it's easy for a few disappearances to slip through the cracks. But they aren't limitless. In the name of the moon, the lunar divinities must uncover the roots of the plot and thwart the true goal of those behind these attacks - control of the Impossible City itself. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title on NetGalley. Thanks to Tor/Forge for providing a temporary ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


Let's get it out of the way: if you adored Middlegame but felt that Seasonal Fears was a bit of a letdown, you only need to read Tidal Creatures to fall in love with the series all over again. And no, not only because this time Roger and Dodger play a huge part in it (though it does help 😉 😍). For one, the amount of exposition is just right - there's a lot to take in, that's for sure, and some of the concepts are tackled more than once, but you never feel like you're hammered over the head with them when it happens. Every time the god-incarnate situation, the alchemical procedures or the Impossible City (a.k.a. the center of creation) are discussed, the reader is given a new piece of information, or sees a familiar event from a new angle (or from a new character's eyes), so that in the end everything is an essential tassel to the book's mosaic, the same way as the Lunar gods need to come together to become the Moon that shines over the City itself. But this is just one of the reasons why this book restored my faith in the series... [...]


After two installments where the protagonists came in pair (with different grades of success - Roger and Dodger could sustain a whole book and then some, while Harry and Melanie were definitely less vivid and interesting), Tidal Creatures is a change of pace in that it introduces (or reintroduces, in some cases) a whole group of characters, who vary from gods incarnate/their human hosts, to alchemical constructs, to normal people who may or may not have an affiliation with magic (plus antagonists in the form of evil - or slightly less evil - alchemists, of course). Oh...and a dog (don't worry, he doesn't die - though there are other casualties...).
McGuire clearly put a lot of thought into shaping the symbiosis between the Lunar gods and their human counterparts, and the different grades of balance (or lack thereof) in what is, for all purposes, a partnership every host entered willingly, but not without consequences. It's like having two characters in place of one, sometimes even at the same time (though of course only one of them is at the forefront), and it's fascinating. There's also a unique coming-of-age arc involving one character who must learn the truth about herself the hard way, and finally...there are Roger and Dodger - Language and Math personified - in all their glory. After their brief cameo in Seasonal Fears, they get a lot more space here, and McGuire explores their god-like essence and the way they (can) rewrite reality, along with their effort not to rearrange the world (and the people in it) around their desires - not to mention, their tether to humanity on one end, godhood and the Impossible City on the other. It's a testament to the other characters though that Roger and Dodger don't steal the scene, and I bet you'll find some new favourites here, like I did 🙂.


Tidal Creatures departs from your average Seanan McGuire's novel in that it (partly) focuses on a murder and an investigation; but don't enter it expecting a classic murder mystery, if in a supernatural setting. This part of the plot is exciting, but mostly for different reasons than the actual whodunnit (I'll go as far as to say that it isn't that hard to hone in on the culprit - I'm not going to elaborate in order to avoid spoilers): during the sleuthing, we finally get a glimpse of the Impossible City we've been teased with since Book 1, and we delve into its mythology and its connection with both the Lunar gods and the Doctrine siblings (that is, Roger and Dodger). As it's custom with McGuire's best books, Tidal Creatures's strength lies in its complex, yet easy-to-love characters (with whom the author clearly empathises even when she puts them through the grinder) and imaginative worldbuilding (speaking of which, leave it to McGuire to weave aspects of lore into a new, original myth). With two more installments on the way and the road to the Impossible City firmly paved at last, the future for this series sounds glorious, and I can't wait to get there.

Note: I couldn't help but notice a small continuity error in the chapter titled Mare Ingenii: a character who's going under an alias is introduced by her real name, only for her alias to be used (correctly) a few pages later. I'm curious to see if this tiny hiccup will make it to the published version or not... Later edit: It was amended!

For my "Middlegame" review (first installment in the series) click here.
For my "Seasonal Fears" review (second installment in the series) click here.
For more Adult books click here.
For more Supernatural books click here.


  1. Wow, this post got me hyped! "Tidal Creatures" seems like the perfect remedy for any "Seasonal Fears" disappointment. It's great to hear Roger and Dodger are back in action, and it sounds like the balance of exposition is spot on. I'm intrigued by the introduction of new characters and the exploration of the symbiosis between gods and humans. Plus, a murder investigation in a supernatural setting? Count me in!

    1. This book has a little bit of everything, but it doesn't makes it confusing - only more exciting!

  2. That's awesome that McGuire mixed things up and still produced a hit for you.

  3. I've only read a couple of McGuire's books but I liked them for the most part and this sounds good too.

    1. She has a wild imagination, but of course you also have to pull it off, and she almost always delivers!

  4. I never got to Seasonal Fears, but now I want to read it as well as this one. Loved Middlegame!

    1. Middlegame is one of a kind, but this one has all the best McGuire trademarks as well. SF suffers from too much exposition and a couple of rushed plot points, which sounds like an oxymoron but I swear it's true 😂. Then again, the series as a whole is so original and exciting, you shouldn't miss the chance to see where it goes!

  5. I've definitely enjoyed a fair number of McGuire's books and it sounds like this was really well done, so I definitely want to check it out. Awesome review!

    1. Thanks! Ah, you have to read Middlegame. I think it would be a good fit for you.'ll have to read the whole series of course 😉.


Welcome to Offbeat YA! I love hearing from you and always - I mean always - acknowledge your comments. This used to be a full democracy place, because anyone could comment, regardless of being a registered member of any community. Unfortunately, I had to turn off the Anonymous comment option, because I was getting too much spam that didn't get filtered. So, you’ll need to have a Google account (Gmail will suffice) in order to comment. Sorry about that. Anyway, jump right in! Come on, you know you want to...😉 And be sure to leave a link!
BTW...I don't care if a post is a million months old - you comment, I respond. And you make my day 😃.
Note: this is an award/tag free blog. Sorry I can't accept nominations due to lack of time.

As per the GDPR guidelines, here's the link to my Privacy Policy.