This second volume of The Sandman collection pulls together what the series is all about. The Sandman himself takes a relative backseat in this set of stories, leaving room for Gaiman’s imagination to run riot and other characters to firm up our understanding of who this Morpheus character really is.
We follow the story of Rose Walker, who starts off on a simple trip to meet her long-lost grandmother but ends up intertwined in the Sandman’s dream world, along with a bizarre cast of supporting characters. The plot pulls in threads from the first book (though you could just about start reading here if you really wanted to) and delivers a whole lot more, ready to be picked up and developed further down the line.
Interspersed through the story are fantastic single-chapter asides: short stories that take us away from the action but also help refine the Sandman’s place as a timeless character, a servant to all of humanity, no matter what their cultural or religious background. The story-telling is executed wonderfully; never laboured and always perfectly paced.
The artwork, though unlikely to reach out and grab you, is extremely effective. Dringenberg’s characters are very human, bringing the extraordinary elements of this book and binding them perfectly with the ordinary.
This is arguably one of the highlights of The Sandman series and sets the standard for what follows. The Doll’s House seems to expand and improve with every reading and should take pride of place on the bookshelf of anyone who likes a good yarn, comic reader or not.