In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

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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The fourth book in Seanan McGuire's Wayward Children series we learn the origin story of Lundy, a therapist employed at Eleanor West's School for Wayward Children.

When we first meet Katherine Lundy,  the daughter of a school's principal, her life is governed by rules and order. Her only friends are the books she loves. Walking home from school one day, she sees a door and enters the Goblin Market. The Goblin Market is a fantasy world with a few specific rules and Lundy believes that she will be able to follow them. The Goblin Market uses a barter system of trade; citizens must provide "fair value" for goods and services provided. Failure to provide fair value results in debt and unpleasant consequences.

For Lundy the Goblin Market is the first place she has felt she belonged. She makes her first friend and finds a mentor who eases her transition into this new world but she soon learns that fair value is a more complicated concept than she had realized.

Seanan McGuire is a wonderful writer who captures the longing and loneliness of children like Lundy beautifully. Each book in the Wayward Children series takes the reader on a journey to a different fully realized world. I can't wait to see where the next book takes us.
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Another excellent book from Seanan McGuire. I love the world's she creates, as well as the different ways she plays with the ideas of portal fantasy. I did feel this book would have benefitted from being longer, however, and giving us more details about the death of Mockery, who is such an important character but one we never actually meet.
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I'd categorize this as "like, not love". I liked it better than book 2, but it's a distant third after books 1 and 3. The main issue for me is how the story is structured- this story is basically about the transitional moments of the lead's life, the moments at which she decided to go to leave home and go to the Goblin Market, or vice versa. That means almost all the moments where "stuff" happens is between the pages. That's not bad, per se, but it means the eventual emotional punch didn't quite land for me.
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See how Lundy came to be in this book.  In the h Goblin Market everything is possible with fair value. ARC from NetGalley.
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In an Absent Dream is another welcome entry to the Wayward Children series. Once again I fell deeply in love with McGuire’s lyrical prose and the different worlds she’s dreamed up. I totally forgot until the end that this character had appeared in the first book though. I would almost rate this as my favorite book in the series but something about the ending felt flat to me. Still one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it.
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This was so good, and absolutely heartbreaking. Because of the time between books, I had forgotten about this particular character. Very good tale, and I can only hope for further revelations.
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McGuire’s writing gets better and better. Thoughtful, smart, and painfully good. Lundy’s story is an excellent addition to the Wayward Children universe.
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*I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

I have adored each of the previous installments to the Wayward Children series, and this one may have been my favorite. In An Absent Dream, the fourth book in the series, follows Katherine Lundy's childhood before the events of the first book. Lundy, as she likes to be called, is a quiet, bookish child with certain assumptions about her future until she opens a mysterious door that leads to the Goblin Market. There, Lundy learns about fair value, friendship, and what happens when your life's expectations can change drastically without your agreement. I loved all of the characters in this, especially Lundy, Diana, and the Archivist. McGuire does an excellent job of weaving an intricate fantasy world within the length of a novella. I am so happy to learn that there will be at least one more installment to the series.
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This novella, set inside the world of the Wayward Children series by Nebula Award-winning author Seanan McGuire, tells the tale of Lundy, formerly known as Katherine. This enjoyable story takes the reader inside the doorway to the Goblin Market, where deals are made, but always for a price.
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*ARC received from NetGalley in return for an honest review* 

Seanan McGuire has struck gold once again. This story kept me up late into the night because I just couldn't put it down. The Goblin Market has been a poem that I have enjoyed ever since I first read it. McGuire takes it and expands into this marvelous world that comes to life on the page. It makes me want to just jump into the pages to explore the market myself. Grief has been a large part of my life lately and I enjoyed how McGuire touches on this fact and how it plays a part on two of the character's relationship. McGuire handles everything quite well leaving me wanting more.
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This series of novellas can really be read out of order so reading this one first will not ruin any of the other stories.  Katherine is a bookish girl with no real friends due to her father being the principal at school. One day she finds a door in a tree that takes her to the Goblin Market. Everything is exchanged for fair value and if you don’t give fair value you accrue debt and can become a bird.  Katherine goes back and forth between the worlds and can’t wait to make her final decision on her 18th birthday.  But everyone wants what they see as a fair value trade from her on both sides of the door.  A great story and we meet Lundy again in this one after meeting her in the first book, Every Heart a Doorway. 

Digital review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley
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