This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.
When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.
In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire was published by Tor.com on January 8th 2019.
No trigger warnings.
It’s hard to pick just one favourite when it comes to the Wayward Children series. All the books are amazing in their own way, and besides how can you possibly choose when they all focus on different characters and take us to different worlds? However if I was forced at gunpoint to choose just one favourite, at the moment, it would have to be In An Absent Dream.
“Sometimes ‘fair’ is bigger than just you. Sometimes ‘fair’ has to think about what’s best for everyone.”
When we’re introduced to Lundy in Every Heart a Doorway all we learn about her is that she’s an adult stuck in a child’s body, ageing backwards after making a bad deal with goblins, but in this book we get her full story. Like Down Among the Sticks and Bones In An Absent Dream starts with Lundy’s childhood long before she discovers her door when she was Katherine.
Katherine doesn’t have any friends, as her father is the principal of her school she’s been left out by the other children, but Katherine is determined to be happy and so she is. The Goblin Market Katherine stumbles on is a world made of rules and bargains, and Katherine has been following the rules her whole life. Following the rules made her a teacher’s pet, and it gave her the freedom to find her door in the first place.
“Following the rules didn’t make you a good person, just like breaking them didn’t make you a bad one, but it could make you an invisible person, and invisible people got to do as they liked.”
Unlike a lot of the worlds we’ve been introduced to and a lot of the characters whose stories we’ve read Lundy travels back and forth to the Goblin Market over the years. Every time she leaves the Goblin Market she swears it’s the last time, and every time she returns home it’s to parents who think she’s run away. They try to keep her safe, her father tries to stop her from returning to the Goblin Market, but Lundy always finds her way back again.
“If you want to help her, you need to help yourself first. No one serves their friends by grinding themselves into dust on the altar of compassion.”
Lundy is a smart character, and in the Goblin Market she thrives. She makes smart bargains and is sure to always pay her debts. Before she ever first steps foot in the Goblin Market Katherine is a quiet girl, content to spend her time lost in a book and easily misplaced long enough to slip away, but later as makes more and trips she becomes cunning, biding her time and making people trust her so she can slip away once again.
But Lundy loves fiercely and that’s her downfall as she’s torn between her best friend in the Goblin Market and her younger sister back at home. Moon was the first person Lundy met when she arrived in the Goblin Market, her only friend and someone she’s sacrificed everything for, taking the burden of Moon’s deals onto herself. But her little sister back home desperately wants a relationship with Lundy, to know her sister when she doesn’t have one foot out the door.
“What’s the Goblin Market?”
“It is a place where dreamers go when they don’t fit in with the dreams their homes think worth dreaming. Doors lead here. Perhaps you found one.”
Going into this book I already knew how Lundy’s story was going to end, but that didn’t make it any less heartbreaking to read. Towards the end you start to see her downfall, the choices she makes as she starts thinking she can outsmart the Goblin Market to keep both her best friend and her sister. Lundy wasn’t a major character in Every Heart a Doorway, so I was a little surprised by how much I fell in love with her in In An Absent Dream but this book was so moving it was impossible not to.
Have you read In An Absent Dream, or is it still on your TBR list?
Which book from the Wayward Children series has been your favourite so far, is it In an Absent Dream for you as well? Did you enjoy reading about Lundy’s relationship with Moon in the Goblin Market, or about her relationship with her younger sister towards the end of her story more?
Have you read any of Seanan McGuire’s other releases, which is your favourite?