Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

Posted May 4, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Challenges / 0 Comments

Book Review: In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
Genres: Fantasy
Published by Tor on January 8, 2019
Pages: 204
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Chimes at Midnight, Indexing, The Winter Long, The InCryptid Prequels, Pocket Apocalypse, A Red Rose Chain, Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Chaos Choreography, Magic For Nothing, Indigo, Every Heart a Doorway, The Brightest Fell, "Of Things Unknown", Beneath the Sugar Sky, Night and Silence, "Suffer a Sea-change", The Girl in the Green Silk Gown, "The Recitation of the Most Holy and Harrowing Pilgrimage of Mindy and Also Mork", Tricks for Free, That Ain't Witchcraft, "The Measure of a Monster", The Unkindest Tide, "Hope is Swift", Come Tumbling Down, Imaginary Numbers, "Follow the Lady", "The Fixed Stars", "Forbid the Sea", "No Sooner Met", Across the Green Grass Fields

Fourth in The Wayward Children fantasy series and revolving around alternate planes of existence. The focus is on Katherine Lundy and her dream world, the Goblin Market.

My Take

I didn’t like this one. It was too confusing, even though we did spend just enough time in the Goblin Market to find out how this world worked. Oh, yeah, I liked learning about why Miss Lundy is so young, but…huh??

The use of third person omniscient narrator, the all-knowing one who can describe the thoughts, feelings, and actions of all the characters, was handy, but still left me confused once Katherine enters this other world. It took awhile for this idea of fair value to sink in, and I wish it could be something enforced in our own world. Although, not the bird part. Ick.

Well, maybe we do need the bird part. Or something that visibly marks out those who cheat and bully.

How is it that parents can be so clueless?

“Parents lied to children when they thought it was necessary, or when they thought that it would somehow make things better. It only made sense that children should lie to parents in the same way.”

Ooh, the feminist in me rises up about what Katherine’s parents expect from her and NOT from her brother. NOT a good way to raise children. In my opinion. Each child should have responsibilities in a family. So I can’t blame Katherine for her “distraction”.

Of course, as Katherine ages, she faces restrictions in our world. Societal ones which value boys more and worry about appearances rather than the person. I gotta wonder what her father learned that he has no clue about this.

There’re the Market rules that the rule-abiding Katherine loves and the carefree responsibilities she has there, and there’s the interpretation her father puts on life in the Goblin Market. And I have to agree with him. There has to be a balance and learning.

Then there’s Diana’s take on it all, and I have to agree with her as well. In fact, it’s amazing that she still loves Katherine.

I just wish that the narrator would explain things better to me, for I did NOT understand about the deal the Archivist makes with Katherine. I would have thought it would be the other way around. I also have to wonder how Moon could have been so incredibly lazy. As for that ending? Huh??

Oh, that’s not fair. I did understand it; I just didn’t like it. I think because it wasn’t fair on either side.

It’s a tale of taking on responsibility and being fair. Of there being rules and consequences that are actually enforced. Of not understanding.

The Story

It’s the unfairness of her world that keeps Katherine Lundy going back. And each time she returns to the Goblin Market, the responsibilities are heavier.

The Characters

Eight-year-old Katherine Victoria Lundy is quietly self-assured, believes in following the rules, and loves to read. I love her already! Her wild brother, Daniel, is six years older while her sister, Diana, is six years younger. Unfortunately, her father, Franklin Lundy, is the principal of the local elementary school.

Miss Hansard is her second-grade teacher.

The judgmental Mr Holmen is her fourth-grade teacher, and Johnny Wells doesn’t seem to value the tutoring she’s been doing for him in math.

The Chesholm School for Girls is…
…a boarding school where Katherine will never be alone. Miss Henley does the Thursday night patrol.

Mom has gotten a job as a secretary at the power plant. Daniel enlisted in the Army.

Katherine is seventeen.

Diana has a son. Who has disappeared. Katherine is fourteen.

Eleanor West runs a boarding school for children lost from their own worlds.

The Goblin Market is…
…a place where dreamers go when they don’t fit in with the dreams their homes think worth dreaming. Moon is the owl-eyed girl who introduces Katherine to the rules and fair value. Mockery is the friend who fought the Wasp Queen. The Archivist is the rule enforcer, the Market’s heart. Vincent, a unicorn, is a pie-maker.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark and foreboding with what little of a twilight sky can be seen through the massive branches of the tree and its leaves. A wide, deep-blue-toned, leaf-framed path leads up to an arched wooden door set into the tree, a light shining on it. All the text is in white starting with a testimonial at the very top. The title spans the tree tree while the author’s name is at its base. An info blurb is at the very bottom.

I’m thinking the title refers to Katherine’s boredom and frustration with her real world, for she’s In an Absent Dream when she’s there.

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