Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In An Absent Dream

Source: Tor.com – I received this book from the publisher. I received no compensation, and all opinions are my own.
Publisher: Tor.Com
Series: Wayard Children #4
Edition: eArc, 187 Page
Genre: Portal Fantasy Novella
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This is the story of a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

For anyone…

Spoiler Warning for all previous books! This review may have spoilers for the first two books in the Wayward Children series, if you are interested in starting the series I recommend checking out my review of Every Heart a Doorway of that book instead. 

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.

4.5 Stars

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4 Responses to Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

  1. Thanks for posting. I have read the whole series, but could not get into this one at all. Didn’t like the Jack and Jill one, either. Now, I know the reason! Characters’ backstories only interest me to a degree. I prefer the group storylines, it seems.

    Best to you,

    Sally

  2. Jia Xuan says:

    I haven’t read this series, but the titles sound beautiful and the synopsis’ are interesting! I’d have to take a look now. Great review!

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