TITLE: In An Absent Dream
AUTHOR: Seanan McGuire
SERIES: Wayward Children, #4
RELEASES: January 8th, 2019; TorDotCom
AGE RANGE: Adult
When a very serious little girl finds a magical door in the woods, she decides to leave behind a life of loneliness to go off in search of adventure, never expecting to find a mystical Market on the other side—where anything can happen, as long as you pay your debts.
If you know me, you already know that Seanan McGuire is one of my all-time favorite authors in the world, and I adore this series, so I was beyond excited to read In An Absent Dream. It was one of those books that I received and then proceeded to spend a couple of months swooning over it on my shelf without reading it just because I wanted to savor the anticipation (which might sound silly, but isn’t uncommon for me), and wow, did it deliver!
Of such commonplace contradictions are weapons made. Katherine Lundy walked in the world. That was quite enough to set everything else into motion.
As always, the writing is positively stunning. Seanan excels at crafting these incredible, atmospheric worlds and building up characters I can fall in love with effortlessly. Despite having already known Lundy from previous titles in the series, she becomes an entirely different character—in a good way—thanks to how fleshed-out and complex she feels throughout this novella.
“Your name is your heart, and you don’t give your heart away.”
While our environments were different, I related easily to so much of Lundy’s childhood—particularly her quiet loneliness that she didn’t even full recognize as such, and her all-consuming need to lose herself in the world of stories—so, I’ll be the first to admit that my adoration of her character comes from a personal level. Then again, it seems like every book in this series has held at least one character who could hit me in my bones like Lundy did, so maybe Seanan is just that magical.
She had been able to find a doorway and disappear into an adventure, instead of living in a world that told her, day after day after grinding, demoralizing day, that adventures were only for boys; that girls had better things to worry about, like making sure those same boys had a safe harbor to come home to.
The world of the Market is, in my opinion, the mosh fleshed-out portal world we’ve met thus far in the Wayward Children series; it follows very clear and defined sets of logic, and is easy to fall into in a way that made me never want to leave. I know we typically don’t revisit Doors in this series, but I wouldn’t mind another entire novella based in Lundy’s world; despite it not being a clear favorite of mine in atmosphere and setting, it was easily the most three-dimensional and “real”-feeling one to me.
“No one serves their friends by grinding themselves into dust on the altar of compassion.”
As usual, In An Absent Dream is yet another Seanan McGuire title I simply cannot complain about. I have nothing negative to say, and the only thing I would change is that I wish I had the 5th book in the series in my hands already, because I am always ready to return to this beautiful universe of doors and worlds.
“You could be happy here, if you wanted to be. But you don’t have forever to decide, and you must follow the rules, or you’ll surely pay the price.”
If you’ve enjoyed the prior books in the series, I heartily recommend picking this one up; however, even if you haven’t read any of the Wayward Children books, you can read this at any time as it’s a prequel that takes place totally separately from the events of the first 3 novellas. Even if you aren’t a major fan of the series, if you enjoyed Lundy as a character, or if you are looking for a delightfully fresh take on the Goblin Market, this one’s for you.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to TorDotCom for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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