Title: In an Absent Dream
Author: Seanan McGuire
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
My Rating: 4 stars
“What’s the Goblin Market?”
“It is a place where dreamers go when they don’t fit in with the dreams their homes think worth dreaming. Doors lead here. Perhaps you found one.”
I enjoy Seanan McGuire’s writing style very much- it’s probably one of my favorite things about her novels. McGuire’s books have all been full of creative concepts and fantastical elements, and the descriptions bring each scene vividly off of the page and into my mind. There are always some small things, though, that take away from the overall experience for me. My main complaint with this series so far has been that each book has a message it is advocating, and the stories spend so much time pushing that lesson that the rest of the narrative gets overwhelmed. After the previous installment, I decided to take some time away from this series to get some air, and am finally coming back to these books roughly a year later.
– beautiful and poetic writing style
– a MC that my younger self could relate to
– “birds in every color of the rainbow and a few the rainbow itself had forgotten about”, “centaurs who baked pies, children who turned into birds, fingernails that sharpened into talons”,
– some major time skips; I was super curious and wanted more detail on what happened off of the page
In an Absent dream was magical and lyrical without venturing into purple prose territory. I loved the juxtaposition of a no-nonsense main character being thrown into a world of fantasy. Lundy is very methodical and matter of fact, and likes to make sense of things, so she’s able to understand and adapt to the rules of the Market quickly. Just because she was able to understand the rules, though, didn’t mean that she’d never fall into a bad bargain, and the Market can definitely be a very dangerous and alluring place.
“This, then, was Katherine Victoria Lundy: pretty and patient and practical. Not lonely, because she had never really considered any way of being other than alone. Not gregarious, nor sullen, but somewhere in the middle, happy to speak when spoken to, happy also to carry on in silence, keeping her thoughts tucked quietly away. She was ordinary. She was remarkable. Of such commonplace contradictions are weapons made. Katherine Lundy walked in the world. That was quite enough to set everything else into motion.”
When we got to chapter 6 the lesson started. Just like a previous installment in this series, the author made a point of highlighting that girls should be able to act however they want, and not be forced into gender roles. As I have said before- it’s a good message! But can we please get back to the fantasy and spend less time shoving the message down the reader’s throat, thank you very much. And this book actually did! I was so happy to read a Seanan McGuire book that didn’t drown me in lessons and let me enjoy the actual fairytale part of the story.
“It can be easy, when hearing about someone else’s adventures in a far-off, magical land, to say “I would never choose the mundane world over the fantastical. I would run into rivers of rainbow as fast as my legs would carry me, and I would never once look back.” It is so often easy, when one has the luxury of being sure a thing will never happen, to be equally sure of one’s answers. Reality, it must sadly be said, has a way of complicating things, even things we might believe could never be that complicated.”
I had no idea throughout the story if Lundy would end up staying in the Market world or choosing the real world. At first the story’s focus was on whether she would survive the Market or make bad decisions and end up deeply in debt, which I was fairly confident Lundy could handle. But the focus eventually changed to the unavoidable deadline of needing to choose which world she would stay in, and I went back and forth with my opinion from chapter to chapter. I was happy with the way things ended, although it did feel a little bit rushed.
Overall, this was a very quick read and definitely worth picking up, even if it is just to experience the beautiful prose. There wasn’t much time for a lot of heavy plot, but this book did hold its own for such a short story, and was a fun read from beginning to end. I would have loved to have been able to read about the adventures and quests Lundy went on instead of having them skipped over and mentioned in passing, but I was happy that there weren’t a ton of lessons and am glad that I decided to give this series another go.