Friday, January 18, 2019

In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire

★★★★☆ A great exploration of obligation and duty

(Portal Fantasy; Wayward Children) Bookish Katherine enters a world ruled by the requirement to “give fair value,” ruthlessly enforced by magic. As she learns how to live there, she likes it. But does she like it enough to leave home forever? (41,427 words; Time: 2h:18m)

Although this is fourth in the “Wayward Children” series, it stands alone just fine and it does not spoil any of the earlier books to read this one first

"," by (edited by Lee Harris), published on by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Review: 2019.071 (A Word for Authors)

Pro: We can look at this story from three angles: the incredible world of the Goblin’s Market, the friendship between Lundy and Moon, and Lundy’s relationship with her family.

The Market’s system isn’t quite socialism, since people don’t have to share everything they get, but it’s just as dependent on an all-powerful, incorruptible “Market” to keep people from cheating. Also, as gradually becomes clear, the Archivist is the one really running things. The one who keeps the books on everyone. The only one who can make deals on behalf of the Market itself. Lundy really does fit there pretty well; she even tries to apply its rules in our world, but her father has a point that there’s something evil about the place.

Lundy’s friendship with Moon is particularly strong because it’s the first friendship she ever had, and she’s willing to make enormous sacrifices for it. She works hard two different times to rescue Moon from the consequences of Moon’s own carelessness and indifference. Moon suffers so much from Lundy’s absences that she eventually distances herself from her in self-defense.

Finally, for all of her unhappiness with her family, she really does love them, and, in particular, she loves her little sister. Diana is the only reason Lundy doesn’t cheerfully return to the Goblin Market after her promised year is up. And she’s why Lundy tries to make a deal to let her have everything. The Goblin Market is all about rules—as is Lundy herself—so it’s fitting, if sad, that her attempt to break the rules and have it both ways ends up with her exiled and cursed to be a child forever. She loses almost everything she fought for.

Con: It seemed to me that Moon was pretty much a parasite; first friend or no, it was hard to see why Lundy kept investing in her. I was particularly disgusted that Moon didn’t seem to lift a finger to try to help Lundy during the year Lundy spent as a bird.

I wonder what the expression, “You haven’t eaten the vicar” refers to.

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1 comment (may contain spoilers):

  1. I thought the start and middle were about a 3, and the final quarter was a 4-star story.

    Reading this does not spoil the earlier stories in this series, but there are other stories in this series that are better imo.