Author: Neil Gaiman
Illustrators: Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III
Paperback: 240 pages
K, the trouble with doing graphic novel reviews is that it’s hard for me to quote or to give you a good feel of the book. This is the first book in Gaiman’s Sandman series, book three receiving the most praise. This book begins with a small cabal trying to capture Death, but getting Dream instead. During his 70 or so years of captivity, his belongings are stolen and scattered throughout the universe. When a guard falls asleep during his watch, Dream takes this opportunity to escape. Bent on getting revenge, he has to collect his three main tools: His dream dust, his mask and his ruby in which he has stored his power. In the above panels, Dream enlists the sight of the Hecate to learn where these items can be found.
Traveling to different planes, he spends time with Cain and Abel, travels to Hell to challenge a demon in a game of wits for his helmet, finds his sand in the possession of a woman who’s been using it to escape her own reality, and finally finds his ruby in a storage shed. But just as he reaches to collect it, he’s overcome by the ruby, which has been changed in the hands of Dr. D.
John Dee, aka Dr. D, has been demented and twisted mentally under the stone’s power, and can no longer sleep. He’s spent the last several years locked up in Arkham Asylum, and manages to escape. He makes his way to the place he left Dream’s Ruby, and laughs at the immortal laying on the floor as he steps over him to pick up the stone. Dee uses the ruby’s power in vile and perverse ways to make people violate and dismember one another before finally killing each other or themselves. Dream has to somehow get the ruby out of Dee’s hands before things get worse.
I started reading this book last year and was enjoying it, taking it a little bit at a time to make it last. But somewhere along the way, I set it aside and forgot to pick it back up until the end of the year, when I started trying to finish up books I’d started in 2009. It is possible that this break in momentum broke the spell of the book, but I lost interest in it after picking it back up. When I read “24 Hours”, the chapter in which Dee takes control of the diner and manipulates the people in it in all kinds of weird, gross, and perverse ways… gory panels, indeed, I lost my stomach for the book. It was a bit too Palahniuk for me, and reminded me of Haunted.
The graphics in the book are fantastic. Dream looks a LOT like Gaiman, and when we meet Death, it’s a surprise. It is definitely different from my usual read, but I think I’ll just stick to manga and fiction for now. I still love Gaiman’s work, but I don’t think this is for me. I give The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
** As I was looking for images from the book to post in this review, I discovered Fyrefly had also read and reviewed it. Check it out!