The biggest thing for me here was I had trouble really feeling the motivation. Lundy’s attachment to the Goblin Market is clearly based a little in her friends but one of them is hardly mentioned except that they died (?) and the other one and Lundy don’t really seem to have any kind of emotional attachment. But then again maybe that’s the point? Lundy’s character from her childhood is presented as a rather detached bookworm who doesn’t seem to mind that she doesn’t have a lot of friends, or that she has to go back and forth between the real world and her new one several times. The only real emotion there is to her is when she has a conversation with her little sister, and it’s more from the sister’s side; for what it’s worth, the sister’s perspective is way more relate-able, but then is that also part of the point?
You might be able to tell, I’m not sure about some things with this book. It fits in well enough with the series as a whole in tone, and as it’s backstory, it helps knowing who the character eventually grows into. As with other installments, there is a clear literary fantasy backdrop, in this case Rosetti’s “Goblin Market” and the basic fairy-tale rules of equivalent exchange and bartering and rules and being very careful with words and names. Even though it’s directly referenced and clear in several previous volumes, the focus on consent and understanding (Are you sure?) is an intriguing part of the premise, but that really only works when the character has a relate-able emotional perspective, and I just didn’t get that from Lundy who is supposed to be the main character. Her dad has some and so does baby sister, and it’s only through them that I felt anything from or about Lundy beyond a generic sort of “meh, ok, whatever”.
I do think that Lundy as we get to see her in book 1 gets a rather unfair pointless ending, and I think that sort of repeats here too. The stuff that goes down right before she leaves the Market for the last time in the story doesn’t have a lot of reason to it, and is not very clearly explained either. Maybe Lundy isn’t supposed to be sure either, except that she does seem to follow what is and is not being said. I clearly did not.