In an Absent Dream was my absolute favorite Wayward Children novella so far!
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.
Katherine just got me. In an Absent Dream takes up the Goblin Market tale and expands on it. Everything is more detailed and fantastical. It was like my wildest dreams come true. Not only did Katherine want to become a librarian, hello little Lili, but she reminded me so much of herself. Maybe this Wayward Children novella was the truest to who I’d be if I went through a doorway?
Katherine is peculiar and she finds refuge in these fictional word. But more than that, Katherine just felt like the essne of me – like a road untraveled. She seems out of step with the world. Able to bridge the gap between herself and others, but also isolated. Her growing up process has been painful in a way that no one seems to understand. Isolated from her classmates, she has always felt unfit, out of tune.
Then she finds her doorway and everything changes. Katherine discovers fair value, new friends, and what it’s like to live your adventures. But at the same time, she experiences terrible loss. And in the ‘real world’ there’s also dangerous consequences to her actions. Her family has missed her and she begins to learn secrets about her family she never would have otherwise.
Seriously. Go read this novella. It means more than every one of them before!
The writing just felt perfect. It was lyrical (had illustrations) and mixed pacing with detailed world building. Not only that, but it’s intensely clever. Having read, and loved, Goblin Market, the whole thing feels like a love letter to Rosetti’s world.
I actually can’t get enough. In many ways it’s a sliver of happiness in a story we know from the very beginning. Katherine’s story is one we know the ending of, and this novella allows us to see how it all started – and went wrong.
We can’t have our cake and eat it too. Do we become responsible or do we follow our heart, into the land that tempts us with fairness? We can’t have both. And so, in this way, Katherine’s story just feels even more universal and hard hitting.
I’m struggling with this idea of my future and whether or not I can have my cake at all. So this was one of those perfect storm novellas.