In an Absent Dream

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 08 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

This installment of the Wayward Children series returns to the past, with the story of Lundy (first introduced in "Every Heart a Doorway") and her experiences with the Goblin Market. Each of the novellas in this series so far has tackled a different aspect of identity and belonging. Lundy's story is about fairness, and about what we owe to each other. Unlike the previous main characters in this series, Lundy is in the unique position of being able to go back and forth between the Goblin Market, where anything is possible as long as you give fair value, and her home in our world, where she has two caring siblings and parents who love her deeply even if they don't always understand.

I enjoyed "In an Absent Dream", although it was also a less comfortable read for me then others in the series simply because parts of it hit a little close to home. I definitely could have been the child who stumbles into trouble because she can't bear to give up either of her families and wants to find some way to have it all. In the earlier novellas we either haven't really seen the families of the lost children, or what we have seen of them just makes us even more satisfied that their children have managed to find a new home. Lundy is the first to be genuinely torn. Of course, in some ways she's also the first to really have a choice.

Everything that happens in the Goblin Market is based on the idea of giving fair value, a contract that is strictly enforced by the Market itself. There is no way to cheat this system, and in many ways that is the appeal of Lundy's world. It can be comforting to know that you will always be treated fairly, even if pure fairness can be rather lacking in compassion.

Lundy's story is especially difficult to read because we know how it ends. Seeing Lundy inch closer and closer to the person that she is when we meet her in "Every Heart a Doorway" isn't easy, but her journey is well worth reading. Welcome to the Goblin Market, be sure.
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I love Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books. Actually I just love Seanan McGuire and her alter ego, Mira Grant.  I was only granted this novella yesterday and I finished it before work this morning, it having leap frogged over everything else I’m currently reading. There are so many important themes in in this series – learning to love your body no matter whether it fits societal standards or not, sexuality and the importance of understanding that you’re not broken and deserve to be loved no matter what, how gender norms are imposed on us in a poisonous cycle and should be rejected where necessary without guilt. And In an Absent Dream McGuire has outdone herself in portraying the sheer insanity of a world that has completely lost touch with people’s realities and circumstances. It’s about privilege and fairness, and being aware that your life experiences do not equal anyone else’s. Some things are not fair and we need to realise this. And she has done it through a Goblin Market retelling which was just sheer perfection. I am now in the post book hangover phase but I can’t even berate myself for my lack of self denial because it was just that good.
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This is the fourth installment of the Wayward Children series, and this story focuses on Katherine Lundy, who ends up at the Goblin Market from Christina Rossetti's famous poem. The Market operates under a bartering system of fair value, and Katherine quickly has to learn not to get herself into debt. Katherine's story teeters between two worlds, until she is ultimately forced to make a choice between the mundane world and the Goblin Market. 
McGuire continues to find new ways of telling the stories of Wayward children, while also writing poignantly about the imaginations of children and the love of books. I'm looking forward to her next installment!
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