In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

In an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuireIn an Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire
Published by Tom Doherty Associates on January 8th 2019
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 176

“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.”

When I read Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and Beneath the Sugar Sky, I thought I knew what it was to fall completely, utterly, in love with fairy tales. I knew nothing.

This is my favourite book yet in this gorgeous series. If I could rate it higher, I would. It’s a beautiful, evocative fairy tale. It’s about outsiders, not fitting in, and – most of all – about how it is to live in a world that is so terribly unfair.

“If you give everyone fair value, no one wants. If no one wants, no one has to take. The Market makes sure we don’t take advantage of each other.”

Through McGuire’s magical and eerie past tense, we follow Katherine Lundy through a door and into another world. The world here is based on Rosetti’s Goblin Market, and the author captures all the magic and the mayhem of the poem, as well as bringing her own spin to the tale. I was afraid I may not like it as much as the other books because Laini Taylor also wrote a spectacular Goblin Market-inspired short story – Goblin Fruit – but they are very different and both can be enjoyed without competing with each other.

In this version of the Market, everything must receive its fair value. The world of the Market enforces this rule and there’s no way of escaping it. Fair value differs from individual to individual. A coin to someone with a thousand coins is worth less than a coin to someone with five coins. McGuire deftly offers a critique of a world where everyone is selfish and tries to capitalize on others, especially those who cannot afford what others can. It hits close to home.

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.

Like all the stories in this series, there is something very bittersweet about In an Absent Dream. The stories offer doorways to worlds where these characters can find love, acceptance, alternatives… but something is always lost at the same time. This one, especially, crawled inside my heart. It is sad in the best way a book can be sad– without manipulation or something obvious like death. It is sad because change can be sad. Choices can be sad.

I loved everything about it. It can be read as a standalone, but you should at least familiarize yourself with the premise of Every Heart a Doorway. Or, you know, just read them all 🙂

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

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