ARC provided by Tor.com in exchange for an honest review.
This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, 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.
This is the fourth installment in the Wayward Children series and, once again, Seanan McGuire transported me to such a magical, and yet brutal, realm. I cannot recommend this series enough.
I was always curious about Lundy’s background ever since she made her first appearance in book one, Every Heart a Doorway. In that book, she is an older therapist who works alongside the director of the school. However, she looks like a child. When I learned In an Absent Dream was going to be about Lundy, I was actually a bit nervous because I had a feeling it was going to break my heart.
And it pretty much did. Katherine Lundy’s story here is a prequel to book one, and we follow her from the very first time she found her door. She opens a door to the goblin market, where she quickly learns everything has its price, and that everything that’s traded must be fair value. But what one may consider fair may not be fair to others. It’s a vicious game of paying a toll, and it is a system that Lundy accepts so she can keep visiting the goblin market again and again.
Lundy also meets Moon, someone whom she quickly befriends and is the driving force for her to want to stay in this world. But Lundy also feels tethered and obligated to stay in her mortal world, with her family. Even though she hates that her life is pretty much mapped out for her, she feels deeply torn about leaving her sister. However, she can’t shake the desire to return to the goblin market because it’s the one place where she feels she truly belongs.
This book takes a look at what price we are willing to pay, or what we are wiling to exchange, in order to have the life we want. A life that’s fair for Lundy, who only wants to be able to live with Moon at the goblin market, but still return to visit her family in her mortal world. But Lundy learns so many lessons along the way, and they are horrible, and brutal, and honest — that nothing is fair value even when you’re led to believe otherwise.
I may not have 100% connected with this story as much as I did with Down Among the Sticks and Bones (which is still my favorite) but getting Lundy’s backstory was everything for me.