In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

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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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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