In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

This is the prequel we needed! This series just continues to pull all of the best threads from classic portal fantasy and weave them together to create something that feels new, unique and at times, unsettling but is also familiar and comforting. I am quite certain that I will read this series until the bitter end and I hope that it is not-so-bitter and a long time from now.
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Another solid entry in the wayward children series. It's not one that will convince nonbelievers, but fans will love.
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The Wayward Children series just keeps getting better and better! After the first novella, which introduced us to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, each book in the series has followed one (or two) of those children back to their worlds—the worlds which have shaped them, made them who they are, and to which they long to return. In true C.S. Lewis fashion, access to these worlds presents itself rarely and in the form of magical doors, and in true door-ish fashion, each one forces two questions: To which world do I belong? To which world do I want to belong? And the children must decide, must commit, to the future self they want to become. 

While none of the books in the Wayward Children series are exactly subtle about their investigation (and instigation) of identity formation, "In an Absent Dream" is even more on the nose than the rest. It chronicles the comings and goings of Katherine, called Lundy, whose family name as well as her family history has shaped her into a fervent rule-follower. Her father heads up the local school, and as a result, Lundy has trouble finding peers willing to brave her father’s gaze in order to become her friend. She takes solace in doing things the right way, by following whatever stated rules the world delivers her. And she falls through a door in a tree into the world of the Goblin Market—yes, that’s right, Christina Rossetti’s iconic (and deeply disturbing) poem is the basis for this high-logic world, where all aspects of life, especially friendships, are carried out on a shared understanding of “fair value.” I didn’t much like Rossetti’s poem when I was required to read it in college, in part because it deeply sexualizes eating food, and as a sex-repulsed asexual person who adores eating, that was deeply repellent. (Don’t take this thing I love and make it about sex, damn it!) I am thoroughly happy, however, with McGuire’s take on the world of Rossetti’s poem, and I’m almost—almost!—tempted to go back and revisit my required reading list of proto-feminist college texts.

For McGuire, the Goblin Market isn’t about sex or even sexual liberation, but instead about the roots and core of identity itself. Who are we, and what do we believe to be true and fair about ourselves? What constitutes fair value, and its contextual underpinnings, becomes the fundamental problem that Lundy must solve—for her own sake, as well as the sakes of her friends and family. Get it wrong, and you might just end up transformed into something you’re not. Or that you are, but don’t quite want to be. Whatever the case may be, the process will be fair, very very fair. 

The Goblin Market itself, a sort of global consciousness, is the arbiter of fair value, balancing the needs and expectations of each participant in its myriad negotiations. Once Lundy figures out its rules, the world of the Goblin Market ends up making far more sense than her—our—birth world, where the rules are drawn up by those in power, and enforced according to those same people according to whim and convenience. The real world has rules, McGuire reminds us, but they only make sense to a few people.

There are so many bits and pieces of "In an Absent Dream" to love, but I have to say it’s the language, and the confusion between language and selfhood that ripped my heart out at last. McGuire understands people, is what it ultimately comes down to. She handles other lives with tenderness and … yes, she gives them fair value. Reading "In an Absent Dream" as the fifth in this sequence of five books brought home this idea that we are language, and we exist in conversation with others. She understands that life is made up of questions, asked and answered and unanswered and constantly negotiated.
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I know, I know. I’m late.

In this installment from the Wayward Children universe, we learn more about Lundy’s past, only briefly glimpsed before. We see her finding her door as a child, and we watch her learning the rules of the world she stumbles into: a world strongly based on fairness and trading. A Goblin Market, of sorts (though it’s not quite a retelling of Christina Rossetti’s poem, in quite a few ways). There’s something rather distant and fairytale-ish about the tone in this one, something that reminds me more of Cat Valente’s knowing narrator from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland than the other Wayward Children novellas. I’m not certain I liked that; I felt like I never really got to know Lundy, as herself, because I was always being told what to think about her.

The world is fascinating, of course; I found myself pondering whether I’m giving fair value or not in all sorts of ways, which is a rather interesting way to think. But… not quite sold on Lundy’s world or her story. The ending, leading up to her decision, felt a little rushed, and was one of the parts where it felt most like we were being told about things rather than shown them (which is not always bad writing, there’s definitely a place for it, but didn’t work for me here). That happens at the end of each section of the book, really, and it feels like being cheated of half the story (although I know the adventure parts aren’t the point).

It’s not a bad story, but definitely not my favourite.
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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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