Sunday, September 26, 2021

In an Absent Dream

Seanan McGuire
Completed 9/26/2021, Reviewed 9/26/2021
4 stars

The fourth book in the Wayward Children series, this book follows Miss Lundy, a teacher and therapist at the Eleanor West’s Home, and her journey into Fae and Fantasy in her childhood.  This world is a little different than the others in that Lundy gets to go back and forth easily between worlds until her eighteenth birthday.  In the other books, the way back into Fantasy after leaving once was not easy.  Once again, it’s great prose and world-building and a Lundy has a great character arc.  I am just loving these stories, even though they are dark and in the case of this one, rather depressing.  Like the others, this was nominated for a Hugo for novella.

Katherine Lundy is the daughter of the school principal.  Her life has been very rigid.  She learns rules and adheres to them.  She has no friends, being the daughter of the principal is not conducive to having friends.  One day, a door appears in a tree.  It has five signs in it, the first being “Be Sure”.  The door leads to the Goblin Market.  There she meets Moon, a young girl who befriends her and teaches her the meaning of the five signs.  She also meets the Archivist, an adult who also tries to teach her about life in the world of the Goblin Market.  It’s not exactly easy there.  The economy is based on bartering and fair value.  If you incur debt, you begin developing characteristics of a bird.  Lundy manages, though, and even helps Moon with her debt.  But when she goes back to her home world, her parents enroll her in an academy that doesn’t permit her any alone time, which is necessary for a doorway back to the Goblin Market to appear.

I feel like I’m becoming a broken record with these reviews.  Gorgeous prose, amazing world-building, and excellent characterization.  Lundy, as Katherine is known in the Goblin Market, existed as a secondary character in Every Heart a Doorway.  Here we get a full backstory and the connection to that first book.  She’s sure of her desire to stay in the Goblin Market world until her younger sister starts to grow up, demanding Lundy be a sister to her.  Guilt gets the better of her and she struggles with her desire to be a good sister and to go to the Market which she now calls home.  I think this is one of the reasons I really liked this book.  The struggle was very well done.  I could empathize with Lundy trying to follow her heart when it is in two places.  

I give this book four stars out of five.  It continues McGuire’s hitting streak.  I have one more novella in the series by her and a standalone which I may not get to until next year.  We’ll see.  But I do think she’s a smart, elegant writer with a vivid, diverse imagination.  I’ll continue to acquire books by her as they come up on sale and read them from the library as well.

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