THE SANDMAN: PRELUDES & NOCTURNES by Neil Gaiman

I’m not a big comic book fan but I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman, so I’m currently working my way through the ‘SANDMAN’ series, one of the most acclaimed comic book series of all-time, or so I’m told. Whenever I think of the series, I think of a documentary I saw once where Gaiman was talking about the SANDMAN series winning the World Fantasy Award, an honor no comic book had ever won before. No comic book has won it since, either, since the people in charge of the award changed the rules immediately afterwards so a comic book could never again win. When asked about it, Gaiman said it was like closing the barn door after the horse had not only gotten out, but had gotten out and won the Kentucky Derby.

I like that line.

PRELUDES & NOCTURNES isn’t like the rest of Gaiman’s fiction that I’ve read. Many of the stories are just straight-forward horror, a genre I’m not particularly fond of, though the AMERICAN GODS subplot in which the girls keep disappearing from the small town in which Wednesday drops Shadow off has some horror elements in the way it plays out.

The first story, SLEEP OF THE JUST, is a cool little horror story in which Morpheus outwaits his captors before finally taking his revenge. 24 HOURS is a pretty gruesome horror story in which Morpheus barely appears. Of the horror stories that open the book, those two are probably the most memorable to me, though I wouldn’t necessarily call them my favorite. Like I said, horror isn’t really my genre.

Not surprisingly, the most Gaiman-esque story of the bunch, THE SOUND OF HER WINGS, was my favorite of the bunch, as Morpheus feels driftless after recovering his stolen objects in the previous stories. It also introduces Death, my favorite character of the series so far, the happy-go-lucky Goth chick who collects human souls and escorts them to the Other Side.

Morpheus himself is still a mystery by the end of this collection. We know he’s patient and seems to be powerful, as he receives respect from many of the characters we meet, including Lucifer Morningstar, so it’s somewhat a mystery exactly how he was captured by Burgess’ simple spell in the first place. In Hell, we meet a prisoner who begs Morpheus to release him, asking the Dreamlord if he still loves him. Morpheus replies that he does, but hasn’t forgiven him yet, again hinting at backstory without giving us any real info besides that fact that Morpheus can be tough-hearted when he feels he needs to be.

While Dream is probably my favorite, I’m intrigued by Cain and Abel’s presence in the story as well, and hope they get a bit more to do as I move forward with the series.

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