Review: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)


In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire // VBC ReviewIn An Absent Dream (Wayward Children #4)
Seanan McGuire
Published: Jan. 8, 2019 (Tor)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: Purchased

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Notes: While this review will be spoiler free, it will reference previous books. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Every Heart a Doorway.

In An Absent Dream is the story about Lundy, a serious girl who likes the structures of rules, likes books, reading, and studying. She doesn’t want to fit into the predisposed position a girl in the 1960s is supposed to, that of becoming a wife and mother and running a household, what is considered “respectable.”

As is wont to happen, a doorway appears, and Lundy finds herself in the Goblin Market where one must follow the rules and always provide “fair value” if one is to, shall we say, remain grounded. As Lundy reaches maturity, her decision to stay in the Market or have the doorway closed to her forever looms ever near, and Lundy will find out exactly what is given away in the name of fair value.

Absent Dream is yet another prequel story in this series, it works well as a standalone—as do all the books in the Wayward Children series—but long-time readers of this series will recognize Lundy, whom we’ve previously met in Every Heart a Doorway. In that book, we are introduced to a younger (older) Lundy who acts as a therapist for all those who make their way to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. In this regard we are already fully aware of what becomes of Lundy by the end of Absent Dream, which makes this a rather bittersweet reading, but that seems to be par for the course in this series, where a fairy-tale is more Grimm’s than Disney.

But I felt like Absent Dream was more so than the others. It’s the first time we see the child actively going back and forth over the years between their doorway and the real world. The first time we see the effect that a child leaving has on the family who—by all accounts—loves and cares for her even if they don’t completely understand her.

The Goblin Market is an interesting juxtaposition with the real world. It’s a place of wonders that Lundy is drawn into where she feels like she truly belongs. Yet it’s also a place that puts an inordinately amount of emphasis on making sure things are fair, to the point where the apparent sentient Goblin Market itself will step in to make sure all debts are paid otherwise proof of your debt will manifest itself upon your person. In a predominately unfair world, how do you find balance when what is valuable to one person means nothing to someone else? How do you keep from losing part of yourself in the exchange? It’s something Lundy struggles to understand throughout and only knows the true consequences once it’s too late. Seanan McGuire wrote a very layered and involved book in such a short amount of space, but everything between the covers is written with a very precise purpose. It’s beautiful in its grimness.

I’ve really enjoyed how much this series hinges on and pivots around that first book in the series. How that first book has started out as the doorway of sorts, leading readers in all different directions. You just never know where Seanan McGuire will end up taking you next.

Sexual content: none

2 Responses to “Review: In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #4)”

  1. I really enjoy reading this series and I love how the overall story branches out into all these different directions. I haven’t read In An Absent Dream yet but I’m really excited for it and this review is making me more excited to read it!

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