In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Since book one I have wanted to know more about Lundy, who is one of the few that have a physical appearance that has been permanently altered by her life in another world. She was such a quiet force in the few scenes she was in but she had a bit of a cloud of sadness about her, and it just felt like her story was one that needed telling.

This dives right into Lundy's story, taking us back to the time when she first discovers her door to the Goblin Market and moves us all the way up to the point that she meets Eleanor. It covers a lot of time in such a short period, but never once did it feel rushed or bare bones. In fact, it was quite easy to picture the Goblin market with its bustling streets and unique array of characters. If I had to pick one world that we have been introduced to thus far to visit, it would be the Goblin Market. I loved Nancy's Halls of the Dead, with its quiet ambiance and stillness, but as much as I love silence I also love vibrancy. It's such a complex place with its seemingly jumbled group of people from a wide variety of places, cultures, and species but it has a structure to it and it seems so freeing. Everything banks on Fair Value, everyone knows what they want/need and the market makes sure it's never cheated or taken advantage of. I love how much character that McGuire provides to the worlds themselves, and how they move and shape themselves over time becoming something wholly other.

Lundy's story is much like her in a way, a quiet force that has a bit of sadness running throughout. I loved getting to see a young Lundy work around Fair Value, trading and bartering for her and her friend, Moon. They have such a passionate friendship of intense highs and deep lows, that fit the vibrancy and sharp edge darkness in the story. I loved that this series focuses so much on relationships and how natural it can be, but also how strained they can become due to the odd circumstances of world jumping.

Honestly, this series is probably my favorite take on portal fantasy in general. It deals with the fantastical and how returning to a normal life can be both welcome and jarring, but more importantly, it shows the dark side to walking away from one life into the next. It's an odd little collection of stories, so if you find yourself kind of meh on one I'd encourage you to give another one a shot. Books one and two are storyline based, but two and four are kind of their own little stories centering around characters you have meet in those two with some spoilers to the central story. I'd be hesitant to say read them out of order, but if you plan to then you can go forward knowing that info.

I received this book from the publisher. I received no compensation, and all opinions are my own.
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Ive loved every  book in this series.  This one felt a bit more fragmented because of the way the story was told, but It was great to see the backstory of why Lundy was the way she was.   If you think fairytales are for children only you need to read this series.
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I've been following this since Every Heart a Doorway, and every time I think I've got it figured out, she sends us a curveball, in the BEST way! Read from the start tho, but read it!
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So, I am having a very hard time pinning this story down. I liked the idea of the Goblin Market, and Lundy, with her head always in a book, seemed like the sort of girl a door to the Goblin Market would open to. 

I agree with other who said that the book felt like an incomplete sketch. Lundy went to being Moon's best friend and someone she would sacrifice her humanity for in seemingly the blink of an eye. Lots of time spent with Lundy on our world, and really very little in the Goblin Market one, so that we really didn't get to appreciate what she was leaving. 

But that's not exactly it. Novellas do have this sort of flaw, but I could live with it.

In the end, because of the focus on the human world, the Goblin Market didn't really need to be the Goblin Market. Although there's an air of danger to it, nothing really bad happens to anyone there unless they decide to go on a quest. No one tries to cheat anyone because of the "fair value" magic enforced invisibly. There are no goblins to outsmart. Lundy turns her hand to things as mundane as doing laundry, sorting books, and delivering messages, and while it's cool to do laundry for people with the tails of cows, in the end it's still just laundry. And while getting turned into a bird for going into debt isn't the most pleasant fate, it's far from the least pleasant fate you could come across in a fairy tale. I thought that the story would be about Moon's choices and maturity and how Lundy had put her fate in the hands of someone who didn't know the value of what she was given, but it didn't turn out that way. 

The most important concept in this whole book was the idea of fair value. You had to give up something of value to yourself in order to get something of equivalent value to the seller. Lundy uses the idea of fair value to argue with her father about her right to choose which world to live in. I didn't think that Lundy herself always provided fair value, frankly. Pencils were easy for her to get, and a handful of them would buy her food for a year. How is that different than someone with a hundred ribbons giving a handful of them for food for a year, which is deemed unfair value? The whole idea seemed like lip service was given, but deep down the rules were arbitrary. And the rules weren't explained well, which I also think isn't fair. The buyer and seller have to somehow come to an arrangement that is fair, without really knowing if they are bargaining correctly. Maybe the moral of the story is that something is worth whatever you think it is. But I don't think there's truly a moral here, because what happened to Lundy is neither fairy tale logic nor fair. 

So, fair value is a concept that was poorly used. And the end of the book bothered me. I feel like Lundy's request- to not turn 18- wasn't entirely unreasonable, but she should have had to sacrifice more than some jewelry to get it. Lundy never had to give up anything that truly mattered to her, and that's where fair value doesn't work. The next piece is that Lundy isn't told the true cost of her wish until it's too late. That's also not fair value, because Lundy can't know the price she will pay. How is that fair? Plus, the cost- to live your whole life backwards and never see the Goblin Market again- feels too high for a child who didn't know what she was doing. It's a cruel trick, but the Archivist never comes across as capricious or cruel (but she is, in the end). It's the "more in sorrow than in anger" punishment, which hurts as much as if not more than a just punishment that fits the crime. So although the Goblin Market acts like a Logic world, in the end I don't think it is one. 

In the end, Lundy couldn't choose between freedom and her family. How many of us have had to look at that impossible choice? And how many of us have left it lie as long as possible, in hopes of somehow not having to make it? There was no one for Lundy to really talk to throughout the whole book, only cryptic Archivists and flightly bird girls. If she had ever been able to have a real conversation about her choices, things might have gone differently. But her guilt at wanting both worlds kept her from truly enjoying either one. And since I know that she never got to go back, it's a tragic story and one that makes me mad because it is not fair at all.
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Book Review
Title: In an Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: YA/Portal Fantasy/LGBT
Rating: ****
Review: So in the Wayward Children’s series we have follow Nancy, Jack & Jill, Rini & Sumi and we follow Lundy’s journey to the Goblin Market years before the years of Every Heart a Doorway. I have been lucky to gets ARC’s of both Beneath the Sugar Sky and In an Absent Dream from NetGalley and I couldn’t wait to get into the latest instalment from Seanan McGuire. 
Like Down Among the Sticks and Bones, In an Absent Dream is a prequel story so we already know a little bit about Lundy. We know that she made a deal in the Goblin Market to age backwards as her world threw out anyone over 18 but this had its own repercussions. We also know about Lundy’s subsequent death in Every Heart a Doorway so Seanan McGuire can only tell us Lundy’s past. We are introduced to Katherine Victoria Lundy when she is 6 years old, she is a reserved and shy child who doesn’t have any friends, but she still solace in books and rules and she is happy. However, we can see that Lundy isn’t a normal child and this is enough to set the doors into motion.
By the time Lundy’s door appears she has already become the person we knew in Every Heart a Doorway and she disappears from her birth world into her own world. Since we already know Lundy world is a world based on logic, and it is a Goblin market I was eager to see what this world was like. I think Lundy’s world will be different to the moors, the Halls of the Dead and it will be drastically different from Confection. As we approach the ¼ mark in the novel, Lundy has arrived in the new world despite the warning to be sure she wasn’t. However, she learns this world has 4 keys rules, two of which are ask for nothing and names have weight. She meets a girl who calls herself Moon who takes Lundy to the Archivist who can teach her about the rules and fair trade. While confusing Lundy doesn’t seem to be frightened of this world but rather, she is curious. 
So far, I wasn’t loving In an Absent Dream which is a shame as I loved book 1 – 3. As Lundy learns the basis rules of Market, she doesn’t really understand but there are people like Moon and the Archivist that will help her understand. The way Lundy’s door works also reminded me of Eleanor’s door as she is allowed to leave and return to the Market as she likes until she turns 18, after that she will either stay in the Market or return home although we already know the outcome of this. I think the major problem for me was there wasn’t really much excitement as we already know the ending, for example in Every Heart a Doorway we had a murder mystery and the question of whether Nancy’s door would reappear, in Down Among the Sticks and Bones we had already meet Jack and Jill but we didn’t know there history and how they came to leave the moors and in Beneath the Sugar Sky we follow Rini and whether or not they can get Sumi back after her death. 
As we cross into the second half of the novel, Lundy has learnt about fair value and debt and she is trying everything she can to help Moon stay out of debt even if it means taking some of the debt as her own. Lundy works hard to pay off the debts and all is right for a time, but the concept of time always plays on her mind because when she is home with her family, she doesn’t want to return to the Market, but the door always appears bringing her back and when she is at the Market she frequently thinks of her family, a real catch 22. Moon becomes like a sibling to Lundy, but their relationship seems unfair as Lundy is always helping Moon get into trouble as when she returns to her birth world, we see that the promises Moon made haven’t been fulfilled yet despite all Lundy has done for her. As time passes Lundy is more and more wary of making deals and promises because of the rules but she is also ever conscious that her time in the Market is running out. 
As we cross into the final section of the novel, we see the conclusion to Lundy’s story, in the end it was her own indecision that got her banished from the Goblin Market. She is torn between the family she has in the Market and the family she was born into, so she can’t to sure without more time. She finds a way that means she will never reach 18 but in doing so she breaks one of the key rules of the Market and is banished. Many years later she meets Eleanor West and thus begins Lundy’s new journey we see in Every Heart a Doorway. 
Overall, I really liked Lundy’s cautionary tale about making sure. Lundy isn’t the first character we meet that was given this working as Nancy, Jack and Jill also have this warning but unlike Lundy they are sure and all three find their way back home in the end while Lundy is trapped in a world that will never be hers as long as she knows the Market exists somewhere out there beyond her reach. While this wasn’t my favourite instalment in the Wayward Children series, that will always be Down Among the Sticks and Bones, it is a heartbreakingly beautiful story.
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The 1st book in the Wayward Children series, Every Heart a Doorway set an incredible standard that few other novellas or novels can ever hope to surpass.  In all truth, I expect it to remain one of the favorite books I have ever read. The second book in the series, while good, completely lacked that deep emotional connection for me. I have not had the opportunity to read the 3rd. Now we come to this 4th book, bestowed upon me by the publisher via NetGalley. How does it rate?

VERY HIGHLY. While not quite equal to the 1st book (a high bar, certainly), this is an incredible read and one I'm adding onto my brand new shortlist of novellas to nominate for awards next year. Katherine Lundy is a studious, serious young girl with her nose always in a book. When she stumbles upon a doorway at age 8, she soon finds herself at the Goblin Fair of legend, a place of magic, quests, and most importantly, RULES. As a child growing up in the 1960s, Katherine knows all about rules and expectations--wear a skirt, be obedient, get married, have babies. The rules in the Goblin Market, in contrast, are absolutely fair to all comers, regardless of plane of origin or gender. Katherine adventures and makes friends and goes between the Fair and earth again and again, and thinks she's learned about rules and fair play. She hasn't learned as much as she thinks she has.

I related very strongly to Katherine. I loved the angle that McGuire chose with the story. The emphasis is not on the action; the quests and fighting all take place off the page. Instead, the focus is on the fairness and unfairness depicted in both worlds. This might sound like it's boring, but it's not. McGuire is one of the best writers out there and she could make the telephone book a suspenseful read. That said, the storytelling voice is very thick in the first chapter, so if that opening leave you cold, do press on, because that certain voice does back off as Katherine takes the forefront.
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This particular installment in the series follows Katherine Lundy, who we met in the first novella. She is Eleanor’s second-in-command, and is a lot older than she appears. With this installment we get to see The Goblin Market, the portal world that Lundy visits on multiple occasions.

The novella gives us pretty much equal time with Lundy in The Goblin Market as it does in the “real world” and so we get a nice feel of Lundy’s life and experiences in both. And what I loved is that from the first time we followed Lundy into the market, I had the same logical yet magical, beautiful yet dangerous, feelings that I experienced when I read the poem “The Goblin Market.”

Seanan McGuire is such a clever storyteller, and I have found each one of these novellas to be an interesting exploration of these many many portal worlds.

And honestly, I enjoyed Lundy as a character. Her quiet, lonely, and bookish demeanor in the “real world” wonderfully counterbalanced the relationships she developed in The Goblin Market. It was interesting to see the differences between her experiences at school and with her family in the “real world,” and her time with the Archivist and Moon in The Goblin Market. Also, all the talk of Vincent’s meat pies made me hungry.

Oh, and can I say that I actually somewhat enjoyed the fact that we’d get references to adventures and quests Lundy went on in The Goblin Market that we didn’t get to follow her on? It was cool considering the novella length of the story. Understandably we can’t follow the characters to everything they do. But I also would have been okay if this one had been a little longer so we could join Lundy’s quests.

The one thing to remember with The Goblin Market is the rules. Because in a logic and reason based portal world, the rules are everything.

Rule One : Ask for nothing
Rule Two : Names have power
Rule Three : Always give fair value

I hope that there are more Wayward Children novellas to come, because each one has been a delight.
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I have really enjoyed the books in the Wayward Children series so far and this fourth instalment does not disappoint. It tells the story of Lundy and her explorations into her own portal world. The world of the Goblin Market as imagined by McGuire is atmospheric, alluring and rule bound in a way that appeals to Lundy and readers alike and the picture painted is just so wonderfully vivid. What is so great about this novella is the depth of the world building possible in such a small number of pages. The prose is lyrical and accessible and it was great to get a full glimpse into Lundy's back story in this way. I hope that there are many more books to come in this series and would recommend this to anyone who likes the idea of finding a doorway to another world.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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In an Absent Dream is the latest novella in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series. I've read every single novella and this, the fourth, is just like the previous ones fabulous. If you love reading books about children traveling to other realms then you really need to read these novellas. What I love about them is that they are so dark, so horribly cruel and also sometimes so funny. The story shows how children who travel to other worlds and come back, are so changed by their experience that they just want to go back.

In an Absent Dream, we meet a bookish girl that travels to a world of logic and reason and she feels at home. However, she is torn between two worlds, between the world she left behind and the one she found. Will she, in the end, be able to choose which one to belong to?

This story is fabulous, with a heartbreaking ending. I recommend it warmly.
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I think it's tough to write a meaningful prequel about a character whose ultimate fate has already been set, and this novella took a fair crack at Lundy, the backwards-aging therapist from Every Heart a Doorway. As is the case with most of the Wayward Children novellas, the strength lies not in the plot but in the worldbuilding, and the world of the Goblin Market does have some interesting things to say about fairness and capitalism; there's also some commentary on gender roles, although it doesn't get explored as fully as I was hoping. I was less interested in Lundy as a protagonist than Cora or Nancy or Jack (and her interesting relationships, with her sister and Moon and the Archivist, never get fully fleshed out), so this novella fell a bit flat for me, but it's still very well-written and the illustrations are gorgeous.
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The Wayward Children series has quickly become one of my favorites, and In an Absent Dream was yet another unforgettable installment. I was absolutely hooked from book 1, and I find myself thinking about each book for weeks after I'm done reading. The world McGuire creates within such short stories is incredible. This installment finally takes us to the Goblin Market, something I've been wondering about since it was mentioned in the first book. The journey and character growth that is accomplished in less than 200 pages astounds me. Lundy was such an interesting character in book 1, and I'm so happy we got to learn about her background. This was probably my favorite installment yet.
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I loved learning about Lundy's backstory and the world of the Goblin Market! I read the entire novella in less than two hours, and was sad that I'd finished it at the end.
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In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

These Wayward children are all pretty damn awesome.

It's not hard to love a land built on your heart's wishes, a heavy dichotomy between fantasy and reality, and the rules that go along with it.

Lundry, in this one, feels damn important to me. It's almost like I was her. :) Bookish, reliant on rules and in love with Fair Value. She never wanted to game anyone. She only wanted to get by and remain invisible within the rules... and she eventually got her wish.

So pretty, poignant, and full of heart. This is the story of Moon and Lundry. A cautionary tale. A tragedy. Some hope. 

And above all, this is one of the best fairy tales out there. YA? Yes. But but this is one of the GOOD ones. :)
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Another vivid and creative story by Seanan McGuire, with all of the charms of a fairy tale from our youth, but darker and more complex layers as you read further and further. Fascinating and keeps your interest the entire time.
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Thank you SO much to Tor.com and NetGalley, for providing me with this copy in exchange for an honest review

OMG This book is INCREDIBLE. I went into it thinking that I would like it, actually, but I ended up falling in love with it, so, no doubts, it exceeded my expectations. The world we know in this book is so unique, I really loved it. also Lundy is one of the best characters to read and learn more about. I think that until now, it's the most real one in the series

In an Absent Dream we follow Lundy, whom we met in the first book, but this time we'll know her much more thoroughly, from her personal life, until the day she ran into her door and what's behind it. She has always been a very serious girl and attached to the rules, and her only desire has always been to grow up to become the perfect model of housewife that's expected on the part of society. One day, she runs into a door in a tree and crossing it she'll find a magical world founded on reason and logic. She feels that she has finally found her place in the world, but everything in the Goblin Market costs, and when her time there comes to an end, she makes the kind of bargain that never ends well. 


This book is so real, in spite of being a fantastic story, fantasy it mixes with a bit of reality. We see the main character living day to day, feeling like any child could feel, and even when she grows up and experiences other things, it also has that touch of reality that makes her decisions even stronger and more weighty. I also feel that of all the books, is the one that best explains that essence that the story tries to transmit with each book, and in the end, I managed to understand why there are children who prefer to stay in another world instead of the one they born in, including giving up people who love them. It's very interesting to read about it, especially for the motivations of the main character and her internal struggles, everything was very heartbraking and sentimental 


Lundy is a great main character, I love her and I think the fact that we already know everything that happens in the first book makes of this a journey with a lot of meaning and full feelings. I loved being able to know all her story from childhood to the present, it was incredible. She's a very particular girl who's always alone and focused on her books, who are her only companions. Personally I feel that she's so mature for her age, and also very smart, but hopeless as well. And at times, you can think that she's kind of cold, but after seeing her grows, you realize that nobody has ever understood her or given her the place to express herself. And that's all she gets at the Goblin Market, where we can really see her for what she is, a kind and good soul. It's a very fascinating character to follow, I LOVE IT


I loved the world building! There's something simple about it, compared to others, but at the same time it's unique and mysterious. The Goblin Market is a place of high logic, where everything is governed by strict rules, where each one must give a fair value for each action or thing that they want to acquire. It's a world that rewards those who follow the rules and punishes those who break them, but after knowing more, you'll realize that there's a very thin line between what is good and what isn't. I ended up thinking that although I LOVE this world, I think it's the most dangerous one, I feel that although I like it because it's a place where justice is fair, it also has a very dark side, where the punishes are very cruel. Even so, beyond my thoughts, the construction itself, is really fascinating and you can feel everything the characters feel when they're there. It's dark, but beautiful at the same time, it's a world that gives a lot but it can also take away a lot from you.

The writing style is, as always, my favorite things in the book, there are so many beautiful quotes that you'll love and others with the power to leave you in shock. It's really nice

There's something very special that happens with each generation in Lundy's family, and although I can't tell anything else because I think it would be a spoiler, I think it was a great touch and a fantastic idea to explore, so I wanted to mention it anyway. It also opens many doors to new stories, which is cool.
I think the family dynamic is very well created, Lundy has grown up in an average family, where everyone has their place and everything is or seems to be perfect. But she has never really had support from her parents and that's interesting to analyze. I personally think that her parents do love all their children, but maybe they're very strict or they have never tried too hard to create a space where her daughter would feel happy, you know? I think that each one of you could have a different perspective on the matter


Something I love, is sisterhood in books. You know that I love books with strong bonds between brothers, and in this one, we can see that grow, and it was something unique for me.

The ending was so SMART, and honestly so heartbreaking, but so good at the same time. Although you can imagine how everything will end, you'll not be ready for and I had all the feelings, you guys. Undoubtedly, one of the most honest, interesting and real stories that I've come across in this series. I can't wait for the next book and knowing that it's going to be a while for it's release, makes me so sad lol. You need to read the book, I know you'll love it, and there's a great possibility that it will become your favorite
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In an Absent Dream is the fourth novella in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, portal fantasies about children who find doorways to other worlds. While it is the fourth in the series, In an Absent Dream works as a stand-alone and has a mostly-new cast. If you want, you can read it without having read any of the others… although I think some of the prior books are stronger.

Katherine Lundy grew up during the 1950s and 60s with the general expectation that she would become a wife and mother, and maybe also a librarian. But at age six, Lundy finds a door that leads her to the goblin market. The goblin depends on rules and the giving of fair value — nothing is free, and debts have consequences. Katherine can come and go from the goblin market until the age of eighteen, where she must choose between the world of her birth and family and the world where she’s found freedom and friendship.

Apparently, Lundy is in the other books of the series, appearing as Eleanor West’s second in command… although I’ll say nothing further in case you, like me, forgot about her there. In most respects, In an Absent Dream is a stand-alone, taking place far before any of the other novellas and introducing Lundy and the world of the goblin market.

A couple months ago, I read a Twitter thread by Jeanette Ng about how love triangles function in young adult literature as a choice between futures for the protagonist (and some of the problems with using romance to symbolize this). In an Absent Dream does not have a love triangle. In fact, it has no romance plotline whatso ever. Instead, Lundy’s coming of age and the choice she must make about who she is to become is represented through the choice of worlds… and perhaps while there is not a romantic love triangle, she is torn between her sister in this world and her best friend in the other.

The goblin market is a world designed to be fair and make sure that people don’t cheat each other. Sometimes, it’s still not entirely fair — Lundy’s best friend was orphaned at a young age and grew up in the goblin market without anyone to help her navigate the pathways of debts and exchanges. When a resident of the goblin market takes on too much debt, they are transformed into a bird, and it can be hard to ever find the way back to your human shape.

In an Absent Dream is sort of mid-range for the series. I didn’t love it as much as Every Heart a Doorway or Down Among the Sticks and Bones, probably because the thematic material didn’t hit me as hard. But on the other hand, it’s stronger than Beneath the Sugar Sky. While it may not be the most magical entry into the series, it is not a disappointment. I’ll continue to follow the Wayward Children series with pleasure.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.
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I’m not sure how I feel about this entry into the Wayward Children series. I’ve given it three stars, though, just on the strength of the writing.

Seanan McGuire is an excellent author, and the story is certainly well told. The main character, Lundy, has already appeared earlier in an earlier novella. Lundy has the appearance of an 8-year-old girl but actually is aging backwards because she broke the rules of the portal world she was drawn into as a child. This book fleshes out her past and the world she visited, a market world in which interactions between people are treated as transactions. If the principle of “fair value” is violated, the world itself punishes the person at fault.

On the one hand, I was drawn into the story because I found it easy to empathize with Lundy. She’s a socially isolated child who largely lives in the world of books. She likes rules because they allow her to navigate the world around her without difficulty, and she’s very confident in her ability to follow them. It’s not a surprise that Lundy would be drawn to a fantastical realm where stringent rules form the bedrock of reality.

But it’s the fact that Lundy is so good at following the rules that made me question the way the book ended. She has no problem spending years in that market world, years where she learns all about the rules and the fact that they absolutely cannot be violated without penalty, not like they can be in the real world. I think the author tries to set up the conclusion by having Lundy question the rules throughout the story, because she can’t quite square them with compassion and altruism. But having the rule-following Lundy of most of the book turn into the person who chooses to try to cheat them spectacularly at the end of the story didn’t entirely work for me.

Also, the novella doesn’t immerse the reader as deeply in Lundy’s portal world as the other books in the series do. Readers are told about things that happen to her there, but the focus of the story is really on the moments where Lundy travels between the two worlds and the way she feels torn between the two of them at times. That also sets up the end of the story, but I don’t think I was as engaged in her choice as I was supposed to be, because I couldn’t fully appreciate what she would be giving up if she didn’t return to her market world.

For me, as good as they are, none of the later novellas in this series have come close to matching the first. Fans of McGuire’s work will probably love it, though.

A copy of this book was provided through NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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This was so different but at the same time fit right in with the other stories in this series! I loved Katherines story and how the Goblin Market worked. MCGuire writes beautifully and sprinkles magic into every word! If you have not read this series, then I highly recommend you check it out! Thank you so much to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced ARC! I absolutely love this series!
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Although In an Absent Dream is the fourth title in the Wayward Children series, each title can technically be read as a stand alone. Beneath the Sugar Sky (#3) builds on Every Heart a Doorway (#1), with narratives set in the present day and in our world. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (#2) and In An Absent Dream (#4) take place in other worlds, sharing the backstories of characters introduced in book one. Somehow, miraculously, I have adored each and every Wayward Children title, in a way that I’ve not enjoyed any other series.

Yesterday, my sister devoured Beneath the Sugar Sky and is now blazing through In an Absent Dream. She just said to me, “Oh my gosh, this bit about meat pies, you must have loved that”. YES I DID LOVE THAT. If I had a good warm meat pie every day of my life, I would be happy. A simple yet delicious pleasure. My eyes were saucers as I read how Lundy trades pencils for unicorn-centaur Vincent’s pies (he sells fruit pies as well as meat!).

These wonderful pies are a small example of how personal I find the Wayward Children stories. When I first read Every Heart a Doorway, I was alarmed at how the story came so close to my heart. It had been years since I found a book that I so deeply connected with. Somehow, McGuire has sustained that sensation through four books. In an Absent Dream feels like it was written just for me. I adore Nancy, but Lundy is perhaps the most like me out of all the Wayward Children. Reading these books is a personal experience that few authors have been able to give me.

This, then, was Katherine Victoria Lundy: pretty and patient and practical. Not lonely, because she had never really considered any way of being other than alone. Not gregarious, nor sullen, but somewhere in the middle, happy to speak when spoken to, happy also to carry on in silence, keeping her thoughts tucked quietly away. She was ordinary. She was remarkable.

Lundy’s story differs from others in the series, as she visits and leaves her world multiple times. Her time spent at the Goblin Market cuts her family – she goes missing for months. Lundy has a younger sister who she barely knows because she keeps going away. To add another complex dynamic, Lundy’s father had also visited the Goblin Market as a child. He knows and understands to some extent what she is up to. Lundy’s family has an even greater significance in her story than Jack and Jill’s family did in Down Among the Sticks and Bones. The tension Lundy experiences between adventuring in fantastic lands and finding comfort in home and family is something I’ve experienced often over the past five years. Upon returning home for the first time:

And Lundy, brave Lundy, who had ridden alongside her friends Moon and Mockery to fight the wicked Wasp Queen for the safety of the pomegranate groves, who had seen that sometimes fair value wasn’t enough to prevent blood on the ground and a little girl with silver feathers in her hair lying broken in the leaves, never to mock or tease or mercilessly barter again, burst into tears.

“I’m sorry,” she wailed. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I won’t go back, I won’t.” She was lying, of course. But she wouldn’t understand that for two more years.

The Bottom Line: If you are a Wayward Children fan, then fear no disappointment – In an Absent Dream surpasses the standard. If you’ve yet to tackle these books, then why not dive in with this volume – enchantment awaits!
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Another incredible addition to the Wayward Children series, Lundy's tale is a contrast to previous tales in that she gets to travel between worlds for a time. The world of the Goblin Market is intriguing and dangerous and it was a joy as well as an intensely bittersweet to watch Lundy's tale unfold.. Definitely one of my favourites!
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