April 25, 2020

Review: In an Absent Dream

In an Absent Dream In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in the Wayward Children series, and tells the story of one of the children we met in the first, Every Heart a Doorway: Lundy, the girl aging in reverse. Lundy--first known as Katherine--in the mold of all the children in this series, does not fit in, and one day stumbles across a door to another world, a world where she is at home. In this case, Lundy's world is the Goblin Market, a complicated, cruel place of debts and fair value. Unlike some of the other worlds in the series, children can leave the Goblin Market--until their eighteenth birthday, when they have to make a choice. This is the tale of Lundy's life in and out of the Goblin Market, and the families she has on both sides of the portal, up until the time when she cannot bear to leave either family behind. She makes a bargain that violates the rules of her alternate world, and gets her both magically enchanted to age in reverse and banished from it.

This is a fairy tale with teeth. It's told in omniscient third person--mostly from Lundy's POV, but occasionally the narrative pulls back to the viewpoint of the unnamed writer. This could have been frothy and twee, but since this is not a lighthearted tale to begin with, these authorial asides are suitably weighty. This book also doesn't have a happy ending. It can't; the rules of the Goblin Market don't permit it. Because of this, the story may be too grim and pessimistic for some, but for me, reading Lundy's backstory was quite absorbing. Just keep in mind that this is not a magical happy fairy world, and if you want it, it will cost you.

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