In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
Writing - 10/10
Development - 10/10
Overall - 10/10
User Review( votes)
In An Absent Dream is the fourth novella in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series. Once again we’re diving back into a world full of doorways and lost children. This time, we’re going to learn of Lundy’s tale.
In An Absent Dream: A Fanciful and Dangerous World to Be Found
In An Absent Dream brings us back to the world of the Wayward Children, a series written by Seanan McGuire. This is a universe in which doorways to other worlds can be found, but only for those that could potentially belong.
This is the fourth novella in the series thus far, and that tells us a few things. For one, it means we get to see a bit of the past again. Following Lundy, this story unveils the world which she found, and how she ultimately lost sight of her doorway.
The Wayward Children series is a personal favorite of mine. They’re imaginative, beautiful, eerie, and dark. In short, they’re the perfect balance of all of the above, and then some. The worlds described within sound horrifying and fantastic, leaving the mind free to wander.
In An Absent Dream is arguably one of the most haunting novellas of the series thus far, which is saying something. Perhaps it merely felt more haunting thanks to the knowledge readers have, knowing full well how Lundy’s story will end.
Either way, Seanan McGuire has truly outdone herself here. The world is absolutely brilliant, as full of specific little rules as you might imagine—and then some. The juxtaposition between Lundy’s two worlds (the one she was born in, and the one she found) is staggering, and it only gets more extreme as time goes on.
The Goblin Market is what stole my attention—and my heart. The careful rules regarding fairness felt so carefully thought out. It made the world feel so real and alive, all while having this real undercurrent of danger. This is a Goblin Market like you’ve never seen before.
All of the characters and details blended together to create a world and tale that felt truly fleshed out. That is one of the many skills of Seanan McGuire and is reason enough to give this novella (or series, if you haven’t yet) a try.
In An Absent Dream is ethereal and haunting, yet that feeling changes over time. The novella starts out feeling almost serene, but from there the plot and tone alter at a dramatic rate. Given that it’s a novella we’re dealing with, the faster pacing isn’t all that surprising.
What is impressive is how quickly Lundy’s entire backstory is revealed. How her time spent between the door worlds is balanced. There’s this real sense of time there, and it seems to only gain weight as time goes on.
Lundy’s character is arguably one of the more interesting parts of this story, with intention. Seeing her grow and change was fascinating, as was the struggle she faced—and the attempts she made to find a way around her fate.
It’s amazing how stories like In An Absent Dream can get stuck in your head. This entire series has been brilliant, but this one, in particular, seemed to really resonate with me. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my favorite cover of the series so far (though there is that). Lundy’s position, desperation, and decisions all felt so…human. It made her world feel so much more alive than ever before, for good or for ill.
If you’re looking for an imaginative series worth diving into, I highly recommend The Wayward Children series. It’s currently five novellas strong, with the sixth already being on the way. The variety to be found within them is yet another reason to give them a go.
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