Welcome to part one of the fourth buddy read of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series! For this read, I am teaming up once again with Marzie’s Reads and guest commenter and friend of the blog, Janelle.
In An Absent Dream is the fourth in the Wayward Children series of novellas if you read the books in publication order, and is now the first book chronologically, as it takes place before Down Among The Sticks and Bones. We’re reading the books in publication order for this discussion.
This is the story of 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.
For anyone . . .
In An Absent Dream is my new favorite installment in the Wayward Children series.
I identify with Lundy more closely than I have with any other of the Wayward Children so far, and the Goblin Market sounds like a world I could find happiness in. The Goblin Market has rules, and if you follow those rules, you can be at home in the Market. But breaking those rules comes at a very steep cost.
The Goblin Market reminds me a lot of my own relationships with friends, not that we are transactional but that we trade off on doing things for each other. The core of our friendship is that we are both willing to give to the other in roughly equal measure. The internal logic of the Market appeals to my sense of fairness in interactions. Those who do not give fair value are punished.
I understand and empathize with what drives Lundy. While my upbringing was less restrictive than hers, I (an many other avid readers) identified strongly with her escapism through reading. I would have found the door as irresistible as she did.
I also loved the Archivist and Moon. These are the other two main characters in In An Absent Dream that add depth and richness to the Goblin Market and made me feel as though I had fallen through the door behind Lundy.
Once again, Seanan has written the words that speak to hidden parts of my soul.
Read on below for part one of our Buddy Read discussion!
***THERE WILL BE SPOILERS***
Alex: I love Lundy so much! I think In An Absent Dream might be my favorite Wayward book to date. *vigorously shakes book at the reader*
Janelle: Mine too, Alex!
Marzie: Okay, don’t hate me but I have issues.
Janelle: No one is going to hate you. LOL
Alex: Issues? *sits on pitchfork*
Marzie: Well, the thing is, on the one hand, I just really don’t like the Goblin Market world and felt that the whole “fair value” thing impeded the relationship between Lundy and Moon so that I could never feel that the affection there, as friends, chosen sisters, future girlfriends, whatever, could be …. Genuine? Freely given? I don’t know. That said, there’s a ton of other stuff I loved.
Janelle: Wasn’t that kind of the point?
Alex: But that was the whole point of the part where Lundy buys Moon’s debt and after a year they were still friends.
Marzie: That was Lundy. What about Moon, and her affections? How real are they in that world?
Janelle: I think Moon’s affections were genuine. And she’d grown up at the Market, right? I think that definitely colored her. But I never felt it wasn’t real, that it wasn’t true. I agree with Alex. The fact Moon remained her friend after a year was proof.
Alex: Moon obviously grieved every time Lundy left. Moon is a child of the Market however, and could have left Lundy to fend for herself at any time.
Marzie: But I’m not sure I feel she grieves for the loss of her friend or her co-debtor or what. See in the world of the Goblin Market, you are only worth what you can provide. It’s a very harsh reality.
Alex: It’s OUR reality without the paper and plastic involved. The Goblin Market is at least more honest about it.
Marzie: LOL, I did say in my review that one could easily say there is no unconditional love in our world, either. But I guess in a fantasy world, I’d like a softer life, what can I say.
Alex: I really don’t think there is. I don’t think the Goblin Market is your world, Marzie, but it’s the closest I’ve found to mine.
Janelle: So what’s the ton of stuff you loved?
Marzie: What did I love? Oh, the echo of sisterly sacrifices just broke my heart for Lundy. She must have grokked Jack sooooo hard in Eleanor’s school. Oh, just so sad for Lundy, and a clear echo of Jack.
Alex: Yeah, I think Lundy must have understood Jack like no one else ever could. I’m not sure she ever got over being bitter about her own situation enough to actually HELP Jack.
Janelle: Having read In an Absent Dream, it makes the first book that much deeper. I loved it.
Marzie: It definitely makes EHAD feel like a much deeper book. And it makes me think about history repeating itself in terms of your sister costing you everything. Even her chosen sister, Moon.
Alex: Yeah, I’m still mad at Diana for being so selfish. I understand *why* she did it, but I am still mad at her.
Marzie: But I understand Diana for being a child who wants her sister. It’s just that I don’t think she could ever comprehend what it cost Katherine, even when she tells Eleanor about the reverse aging to sort of rescue Lundy.
Janelle: Yeah, Diana never knew the price.
Alex: Lundy wanted to have her cake and eat it too. And we all know how that usually plays out.
Marzie: I don’t even think Lundy really knew the price herself until she was growing old and growing younger at the same time. Over time the perception of unfairness could only increase. I went back and read her introduction in EHAD about no marriage, no children, no… anything normal. So, so heartbreaking.
Alex: She wanted the best of both worlds and in the end got neither, fully.
Marzie: I think she just wanted to make both Moon and Diana happy in addition to pleasing herself. I think her motivations were truly loving. But disastrous. The unfairness of it is cruel.
Janelle: That it is.
Head over to Marzie’s Reads for part two of our discussion!