In an Absent Dream

Wayward Children, Book #4

By Seanan McGuire

ISBN: 9780765399298

Author Website: seananmcguire(.)com

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Caro


This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, 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.


Katherine Lundy is a quiet girl who from a young age observed and learned how adults and kids behaved, giving her the advantage to change situations to her favor. Katherine has no friends and spends her time reading and avoiding getting in trouble as much as she can. One day, Katherine finds a door on a tree with the words Be Sure. As Katherine crosses the doorway to the other side, she sees five rules along the way:

Rule One – Ask for nothing

Rule Two – Names have power

Rule Three – Always give fair value

Rule Four – Take what is offered and be grateful

Rule Five – Remember the curfew

Katherine doesn’t understand what they mean or why they are there. Once on the other side, she comes across a world different from hers. Confused and not sure of what to do, Katherine meets a girl by the name of Moon who explains that Katheirne, now Lundy, has arrived at the Goblin Market, a place where children arrive to and can stay as guests until a certain age. 

Lundy knows her family will probably be looking for her when she doesn’t return home, but the Goblin Market is a curious place and there is so much to explore and learn from. Moon has seen several children before Lundy at the market and takes her to the Archivist to have the rules explained to her. Lundy learns that there is no set currency at the market and if she wants something to eat or drink she must give something of fair value in exchange for it. If you cheat the market there will be consequences. 

As Lundy learns more about the market and gets used to life there, she is told that she can come and go freely as long as she’s sure. The market becomes home to Lundy more than her home was ever home. At the market there’s adventures, she has friends and she’s happy. But Lundy has to make a decision and time is running out.

I have been a fan of Seanan McGuire for a quite a while now, and she is still surprising me with her writing! I was taken to the Goblin Market along Lundy and started being careful of fair value too. I kept thinking of the logic of things, their reason and riddles. McGuire makes me be careful of how I ask questions just like Lundy learned at the market. 

Lundy is a girl readers can identify with. I myself preferred books to some activities as a kid and dreamed my own stories. Lundy finds a home at the Goblin Market because she felt out of place in her own world, but as she got older she kept thinking of the people she left behind. There are several elements to the story that show Lundy’s development throughout the book. She starts as a lonely child and eventually finds the friends she never thought she could have.

There is so much more to this story that I can’t share due to spoilers, but I definitely recommend this book if you like McGuire’s fairytale writing style and a couple of riddles here and there. There is always a moral of the story to McGuire’s books that leave you with an afterthought and this book is no different. Give this book a try and know that it can be a stand alone story. 

*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*