In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Seanan McGuire has done it again! I absolutely loved this book! In this installment of the Wayward Children series we follow Lundy as she explores the goblin market. I adore McGuire’s writing. It really draws you into the story and, in itself, is kind of magical. I can’t wait for the next book in the series; I’m sure it will be just as amazing!
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Whoa what a ride, I could barely put this down. 

Seanan does it again with incredibly engaging narrative style and tragic decision making on the part of the main character. Although you know that's where this story is going, you can't help but rush through the novella to see how it's actually going to take place this time! 

Here we have Katherine Lundy, the daughter of the school principle and someone who has never quite managed to fit in because of it. That's okay, though, because she largely prefers books to people. The only thing she doesn't like is, as she's growing up, there's this familiar refrain of the things that are expected of her as a young woman that don't make any reasonable sense to her at all. 

And then a door opens. Katherine finds herself thrust into the Market, taking on the name Lundy and taking the first steps to finding out that she's not the first of her family to find comfort in this place away from the "real world".

What I especially loved about this story was how the narrative made the Market so alien and foreign at the start, something for Katherine to leave for the safety of "home". But, as we went, as we understood the *why* of the rules that were in place, as even the tragedy that occurred had reasonable repercussions that just don't exist within our world, sense came out of what had been so foreign. I know I was wondering why things don't work like this in our world, and I'm sure I'm not the only one reading this who had that thought. 

I especially liked when Lundy brought back the rules from the Market and lived them back in our world on her visits home, making her attempts at "fair value" in a world where those aren't things that are lived by with everyone. 

Of the worlds that have been shown in this series, I really believe that this one was my favourite thus far.
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In an Absent Dream is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. Released 8th Jan 2019 by Tor, it's 203 pages and available in hardcover, ebook and audio formats.

Despite not reading much YA literature, I have really connected with this series. The characters are well written and follow their internal motivations perfectly. The world building and atmosphere are where the series really shines. Each of the four novels (this one is a long-ish novella) are set in the same world, but can be read as standalones. This one fills out the backstory for Lundy, a returning character who works with Eleanor West at the school for wanderers. The plotting is well paced, and surprisingly for a YA novel, there are very few (none?) romantic drama subplots. If there is romance there, it's implied rather than explicit. The author's craft and control with character interaction and especially dialogue is sublime.

The writing is ethereal and superb. It is at places surreal and dreamlike. For readers who need to have everything explained to them 100% clearly by the end, this will annoy like having an unmovable piece of something stuck pushing your teeth apart.

I'm still thinking about this book a long while after finishing it.

Four stars. Very well written speculative fiction is a joy.
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In an Absent Dream is a worthwhile addition to Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. I enjoyed learning the backstory of Lundy, the therapist from Every Heart a Doorway. Her journey to the Goblin Market and back (and there and back and there and...) was as captivating as that of any character in the series. The style was more thoughtful than earlier volumes, more focused on Lundy's interior development, with limited development of secondary characters. While it couldn't quite equal the magic and wonder of the first book, it evoked a world I wanted to spend more time in and reintroduced me to a character whose adventures I would happily follow for many more than its 203 pages.
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I thought Beneath the Sugar Sky would be the last of the Wayward Children series, but then In an Absent Dream appeared magically on Netgalley, and they were so kind as to share it with me, and a big ol' thank you for that.  Of course, they gave it to me months ago and I read it months ago, but by gum here I am, raving about it now.

Remember Lundy from Every Heart a Doorway? She was Eleanor West's right hand girl at her Home for Wayward Children, a middle aged woman in the body of a child, somewhat prim and devoted to mapping the nature of the worlds her charges have visited.  This is her backstory, where she went and how she came back and how she came to be the Lundy we know at the school.

Because, of course, once she was just a little girl named Katherine Lundy, who liked to read and to think, who liked rules and logic, but who found that the world wasn't quite fair, even by its own standards.  And when she stumbled into another world--the Market, where everything has a value and it is always, always fair--she knows that she's home.

I think what I loved most about this book is that it is addressing a completely different problem than the others in the series.  In this book, while Katherine doesn't much like the way this world is, she does actually love her family.  This is a book about choices, and about how choices are a part of life, and you can't clever your way out of having to sometimes give something up to get what you want. Some resources--like the hours in your life--are finite.

When Lundy finds her way through a door into another world--a world that feels like home to her--there are things she's leaving behind.  And when her new world and new friends demand things of her--giving is wonderful, but what are the limits? Giving generously to your friends can complicate relationships, and your judgement of what they need might not be theirs.

I love how the idea of a world that is always fair is explored here, and how this perfect world--which even makes room in fairness for people's ability and knowledge and freedom--is not enough to be everything to every person. 

In the end, this story brings Lundy from a mysterious, distant figure into a full, fleshed-out character. Knowing her back story, her later life is even more interesting. I wonder sometimes if Seanan McGuire ever regrets that her first book in this series was a murder mystery in which so many interesting characters died; I would very much like to read the story in which that one girl finds her way home through the spider queen's tiny portal.
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I’ve read and loved all the previous installments of the Wayward Children Series, so I was extremely excited to be able to read and review this one. I was so happy to back into this strange and wonderful world. I have been reading them in publication order, but I don’t necessarily think that’s necessary. 

I thought Lundy’s story was a great addition to the series as a whole. She was such a unique character, which is exactly what I was expecting. My favorite parts were when Lundy was at the Goblin Market. The whole fair value aspect got you thinking, but wasn’t too much to handle.

Seanan McGuire writes in a very unique and interesting way that I absolutely adore. I can’t wait to get the next installment and learn more about all the characters I know and love. Another great thing is you can read them in one sitting and not get bored.
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Book 4 of the Wayward Children series, because I don't have book 3. Fortunately, once you read the first one, the others can be read in any order you like. Really, they all can, but they have more meaning and context if you read the first book first. Anyway, this book was such a kick to the chest, and in the best way. Highly relatable. The main character is a quiet, shy, introverted, thoughtful bookworm, the way I was when I was young. Whose name is basically my legal first and middle names, but reversed. And spelled very slightly differently. So yeah, it was hard to not relate to her. IaAD is the story of how she, like the others, finds her otherworld, and how she has a limited time to make the decisions as to whether or not to stay there or to leave it behind her. The world runs by specific rules, albeit with a lot of flexibility, and one has to follow the rules in order to get by. But there's the letter of the law and the spirit of it, and the two are not the same, and damn, when I got to that ending, I basically had to lie in bed and stare at the ceiling for a while as I processed everything, heart aching. This series is utterly brilliant, and I think this is my favourite, after the first one.
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The Wayward Children novellas are currently one of my favourite fantasy series.  
In an Absent Dream is the fourth  story and tells us about Katherine Lundy, a girl who ends up finding a door that leads her to the Goblins Market, a place where to break the rules means to pay a hefty price, where friendships are made, and where the concept of what is fair and what is right is questionable.  Seanan McGuire is a brilliant writer and this book is no exception.  The character of Lundy, one we've met in early stories, is a lovely yet sad one as a remarkable girl tries to find where she belongs and what choosing one world would mean in relation to losing the other.  Really well done and a quick read, perfect for an afternoon curled up on the couch with a hot cup of tea.  As long as McGuire keeps writing this series, I'll keep reading it.
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First, this is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series. I haven't read the others yet, though I've wanted to, and I definitely want to now. I didn't feel like I was missing big chunks of the story by jumping in here (though I'm sure some background events were missed), so if you read them out of order, I think you'll be okay. 
I won't try to describe the story- if you've come this far, you've read the description already. The writing is beautiful, the story is dark and fierce and scary at times, the way a fairy tale is meant to be. It is also filled with magic and friendship and youthful longing, wanting to belong, to be welcome in a place that understands you. The Goblin Market isn't all good; heartbreaking things can happen, but it has an order to it, a logic that Katherine finds irresistible. As her curfew (her 18th birthday, when she must decide whether to stay or leave forever) approaches, how will she choose which world to live in? 
This is a book that stays with you after finishing it. I find myself wondering what I would've done, given the opportunity. Part of me is relieved I never had that choice- either way, you'd be second guessing yourself for the rest of your life!- and part of me wishes I'd had the chance to walk through that door....
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Is there anyone who writes a more beautiful, poetic prose than Seanan McGuire?

In an Absent Dream is the fourth book in McGuire's Wayward Children series. The concept is that children who find their way to the door to a different world then find a world that is perfectly suited to them. And the lesson learned is that a 'perfectly suited' world may have very unexpected drawbacks.

Our central character here is Lundy. She is a very mature young lady who is quite certain that she knows what she wants (and it isn't in the current world). She wants a world that is perfectly logical. In this world she could bargain in the Goblin Market and be certain that everything was fair and reasonable.

While she does feel that this was the right decision for her, she visits her family before her decision is final and she receives a lot of push from her sister who was hoping Lundy would be in her life for a long time to come.

This is quite possibly my favorite of the four books in the series to date. There was something that was both magical and real in this volume that I don't remember feeling before. Perhaps it's because I felt we spent a fair amount of time in the real world as opposed to the magical world for Wayward Children, and that helped ground me a little more (and while I could be very wrong about this, it's certainly how I am remembering the other books).

Lundy's maturity (or at least what she believes to be her maturity) also really helps here. The 'wayward' aspect becomes more of a self-diagnosis rather than a truly 'lost' child who has no better option. It's hard to feel sorry for Lundy, even though she is still a child, because she plots her own course so carefully.

These books of McGuire's ... the Wayward Children series ... are dangerous. They are dangerous because they are beautiful and they hold so much promise, which makes them so appealing.  But one can get lost in a McGuire novel just as easily as a wayward child can get lost in the world.

Looking for a good book? In and Absent Dream is the fourth book in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series and it is a beautiful piece of fantasy literature.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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My Thoughts:
I love Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. Back when Every Heart a Doorway came out, I requested it from my library, and read it in one sitting. I didn't even move from the same position on the couch because I was so invested in the story. Recently, the fourth book in the series came out, In an Absent Dream. I read it shortly after it came out. While I loved it, it was just missing some of the magic that previous books in the series had.

You know, it's kind of interesting when even though I didn't love In an Absent Dream as much, it still gets four stars for me. I think that's because I love Seanan McGuire's writing. There's just something so magical about it. She transports the reader to another place, making them feel like they're at the goblin market with Lundy. While reading this book, I could picture scenes in my head as vividly as if I was watching them on a big screen in a theater. It takes a very talented writer to be able to do that.

When I say that In an Absent Dream was missing some of the magic from the previous books, it's kind of hard to explain why. It still had the beautiful story line, and kept me focused on it from beginning to end. It was just missing something. I wanted more in some areas of the story that only get very tiy mentions. I really wanted to learn more about Lundy's friend, Mockery, and the battle that had happened. Even though I knew how things were going to turn out, I found the ending to be very depressing as well. I wanted a different ending, even though I understand why that's not possible.

Even though I didn't love it as much as the other books in the series, I greatly enjoyed In an Absent Dream. From my understanding doing research, the series will end when the next book, Come Tumbling Down, comes out in 2020. I have mixed feelings about this. A year seems too long to wait for the next book, but I really don't want the series to end. I plan on catching up on some of Seanan McGuire's back list books, and her books written as Mira Grant, in the meantime. 

I give In an Absent Dream: 4.5/5.
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This one haunts me more than any of the previous books in the Wayward Children series.  It's beautiful and sad and an excellent cautionary tale about trying to have everything.  The words "fair value" will make me shudder from this day forth...
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Seanan McGuire has given us another dream world that a young girl walks in and out of while losing parts of herself. Lundy continually makes bargains while she is in the other world but does not give fair value; she ends up trapped there. Well written fable without happy endings.
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This may be my favorite of the Wayward Children books yet! I love the Goblin Market and it's the first one of the worlds we've seen where I could actually picture myself living. I also like how there was much more of an interaction between Lundy and her family than we've been previously shown with the other children. It's interesting to see more of how the family reacts and the pull between family and the seemingly perfect fantasy world.
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The Wayward Children series just gets better and better. In An Absent Dream feels just as magical as the installments before it, with Lundy taking center stage. I cannot recommend this series enough.
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In An Absent Dream is the fourth story in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series and although each book can be read as a standalone I think you're best to at least start with Every Heart a Doorway as all the other books feature characters we first met there. This is Lundy's story and if you read the first book you'll probably remember her as the old woman stuck in a body that has been ageing backwards since something went wrong with a deal she made at the Goblin Market. Seriously she's in her 80's but she only looks about 7 so you can imagine how weird her life is!

Anyway, this is Lundy's story from when she actually was a child - in age not just physically. Like all of the children in Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children Lundy never quite fitted into the world she was born into, she was always a little too bookish and too prone to daydreams to have any interest in the people around her and when she stumbled upon a strange door in a tree she'd never seen before she suddenly finds herself in a place that feels much more like home. The Goblin Market isn't like any of the other worlds we've seen in this series, it's magical and full of weird and wonderful creatures but at the same time it can be incredibly dangerous.

In the Goblin Market there are rules that have to be followed:
Rule 1: Ask for nothing
Rule 2: Names have power
Rule 3: Always give fair value
Rule 4: Take what is offered and be grateful
Rule 5: Remember the Curfew

If you treat people fairly and are willing to contribute an equal share of the work you'll be fine as long as you're careful but anyone who cheats, steals or doesn't pull their weight will pay a high price.

Lundy is very young in this story, she's intelligent and well read for her age but sometimes she thinks she knows more than she actually does so she doesn't always comprehend the consequences of her actions. She tries hard to deal with the Goblin Market fairly but she doesn't always get things right and that has a huge impact on her. If you've already read Every Heart a Doorway then you'll know the direction Lundy's story takes but I found it really interesting to see how she ended up in that situation in the first place. I found the whole Market fascinating and enjoyed the characters we meet along the way.

This series is so much fun to read, I love how each book is completely different to the last and that there are still so many worlds we've not had a chance to explore yet. I'm happily going to continue to devour these stories as fast as Seanan McGuire can write them & hope we have a lot more to come.
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This is the fourth book in McGuire's Wayward Children series, and I can say whole-heartedly that it is my favorite to date.  Although I have enjoyed all of this series, I enjoyed this book and the first, Every Heart a Doorway, the most.  This book tells the story of Lundy, a character we met in the first book.  She is a child in the 1960s, she loves books, and she follows rules.  When she finds a door that leads to the Goblin Market, a place where rules and offering fair value are so important, she seems to have found her true home.  As the story goes on, she is torn between her two worlds--the market and our own world--and her "families" in each.

McGuire's writing, as always, is wonderful, building a magical, fairy-tale tone.  It's really interesting that McGuire chooses to have what many might consider to be the more exciting and thrilling elements of Lundy's story--the battles she fights with her friend against such villains as the Wasp Queen--take place off-stage.  It makes sense to me, because those events are not the focus of this story.  It's more important for us to see how torn Lundy is, as she tries to please the people she cares about on both sides of the door.  That really touched me, because I think that is what women are often raised to do--we worry about other people, we take care of other's people's feelings and needs.   I have felt this myself, so often. 

I highly recommend this book, and the whole series, and I can't wait for the next installment.
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Seanan McGuire never disappoints. Every book makes you think about your life and what is important. But none like this one. What is fair value for your life? Do you consider yourself or other people too? Fair value to eat? To help people? So amazing. I loved this from beginning to end. Seanan packs a huge punch in a small book. Thank you for allowing me to review this book.
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This was an amazing entry into an already excellent series. The Goblin Market is a well-realized, complete world. The characters are amazingly complete while not having much page time. I don't mind admitting that I cried all the way through the end even while I saw it coming. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a good story, and I admire the author for telling such a good story in a very short space.
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I didn’t have a great experience with the first Wayward Children book I read by Seanan McGuire — Every Heart a Doorway — which put me off the next few books in the series. But I decided to give the well-reviewed series another shot with In an Absent Dream, and I’m glad I did as it certainly struck a far more responsive chord and has encouraged me to take a look at the others I’ve missed.

The series posits a series of other worlds and presents us children who have made their way to one or more (and sometimes back) via various types of portals. This most recent title focuses on  Katherine Victoria Lundy, a girl whose “remarkability took the form of a quiet self-assuredness, a conviction that as long as she followed the rules, she could find her way through any maze, pass cleanly through any storm.” 

When at a young age “Lundy” (as she’ll later call herself) finds herself isolated from her peers thanks to her father’s position as principal of her school, she makes the first of what will be many important choices (a key theme of this novella) in her life:  “She can cry for the friends she doesn’t have . . . or she can let them go. She can be the kind of girl who doesn’t need anyone else to keep her happy.” Not much later, she’s faced with another choice when a magical door appears that leads her to the Goblin Market, a world where “Fair Value” reigns supreme. Whenever one is involved in any sort of transaction, whether that be economic (labor, retail) or personal, one must give fair value or suffer the penalties of debt (which are wonderfully fantastical but I won’t spoil here). Lundy travels back and forth several times over years (despite the inconvenience of time moving differently in the two worlds), making two good friends (Moon, another young girl who found herself magically transported to the Market; and the Archivist, a kindly older woman who acts as a mentor).  Btu eventually the rules of the Market mean yet another choice:  at eighteen she must either choose to remain forever in the Market or never return.

Stylistically, In an Absent Dream has a lovely lyrical and elegiac bent to it, a poetically sorrowful shroud of inevitability that hangs over the plot throughout. On a sentence level, there’s some great writing here, and McGuire as well perfectly captures that classic childrens’ fantasy narrative voice, a warmly inviting direct address that refuses to condescend, a tricky voice that many aim at and miss. Here is Lundy’s first meeting with a portal (inside an odd tree):  “Had the tree responded with words, we would be finished now, and all the things which are set to follow would never have come to pass. Perhaps that would, in a way, have been the kinder outcome.” Not the first or last time that the narrator warns the reader that things will not end well in this story.  

Thematically, the back and forth travels and her eventually agonizing choice when the “Curfew” (the decision at 18) arrives make for a wonderful apt metaphor that betwixt and between nature of adolescence, when one is caught between childhood and young adulthood and yearns for aspects of both. Where then is the math formula to determine “Fair Value” between two possible lives? Especially when that math is complicated further by how that choice is at least as much about obligation/responsibility as pleasure or desire. Or by how society’s sexism drives choices/actions, as when Lundy thinks of how the Market offered her a world opposed to one “that told her, day after day after grinding, demoralizing day, that adventures were only for boys; that girls had better things to worry about, like making sure those same boys had a safe harbor to come home to.”

McGuire keeps the focus on choice, on the intimacy of relationships both in terms of friends and family by making the briefest of references to what would be considered the “typical” fantasy action, such as battles against the “wicked Wasp Queen” or the Bone Wraiths. Placing these “action scenes” in the background makes more clear that McGuire is more interested in consequences than acts, in what happens after the action, not during.  This also allows the wrenching emotional scenes to hit with greater impact, as well as linger longer. Also adding to the impact is how McGuire eschews the easy choice to paint Earth in an artificially grim light, such as by portraying her father as overly stern or neglectful. Instead he has both secrets and layers, and offers up a richly complex viewpoint regarding the sort of choice his daughter has to make. McGuire’s entire portrayal of family here—both actual and found, is one of the strongest aspects of the novella.

Another theme of course is evident in that “Fair Value” requirement of the Market and its implicit comparison with the painfully embedded unfairness of modern capitalism. Sure, the consequences of debt may seem horrific on the surface, but our own history with debt and unfair economics — both historical and current — hardly makes it easy to point fingers. I have my own view on how the two worlds compare, and other readers’ will surely come to their own, but the goal isn’t “an” answer but more the question.

As noted in my introduction, I came into In An Absent Dream with some skepticism based on how little I enjoyed Every Heart a Doorway, but it won me over with its skill and heart and leaving me intrigued about the others.
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