It’s a tricky thing, reviewing a book that’s a recommendation…
It’s really hard to write about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels because they are so rich in detail, complex, and include a lot of intertwined stories. In Sandman Volume 2: The Doll’s House, we get a woman looking for her brother, escaped dreams, new siblings, a fake Sandman, a human who never dies, and a conference for serial killers. And somehow it all works.
In Volume 1: Preludes and Nocturnes we met Dream and his sister Death, and Dream had just escaped after being held against his will for decades. In The Doll’s House we meet more of Dream’s siblings, Desire and Despair, and they really like to play games. The overall arc in The Doll’s House follows a pawn in their game, Rose Walker, a 21-year-old searching for her younger sibling. Rose’s story intertwines with Dream’s when we see him on a search to find four dreams that have escaped since his incarceration.
The four escaped dreams all take different paths, two trying to steal Dream’s power, one turning into a disgusting killer, and one simply trying to figure out what it means to be human. Dream meets Rose in his quest to find these dreams because the problems Rose encounters trying to find her brother are caused by them.
I really can’t say much more because it will just continue to confuse the hell out of you. This tale is full of complex pieces and it can be a struggle to fit them together, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Since I don’t want to say too much more, I’m going to tell you what I absolutely adore about The Doll’s House. I love the stories that don’t have as much to do with the overall arc as they do with giving more insight into the character of Dream.
The Doll’s House begins with a tribesman telling a young man the origins of their village. The tale is about a female leader who fell in love with Dream and it’s sweet and sad and makes Dream sympathetic. The other story that also makes Dream sympathetic is the one of the human who never dies. Dream grants a human the gift of eternity, as long as he promises to meet Dream every hundred years in the same bar to let him know if he yet desires death. The bar changes in awesome ways based upon the century, and so do their hair and outfits, but every century they meet and we get some insight into Dream’s loneliness and friendship.
Through the stories we see that Dream is not above the temptations of man, that he can feel love and sadness along with the anger and vengefulness we often see with him. Dream’s character continues to be more layered with these stories, and with how he leaves the serial killers, and what he almost does in the end, he needs as much help in the sympathy department as he can get.
The character of Dream continues to draw me into these stories. I’m not a huge fan of horror, especially the disgusting horror in The Doll’s House surrounding the conference for serial killers, but I will read horror if there are characters like Dream and his siblings. I can’t wait to see what happens to them next.