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Familial bonds, sacrifice, manipulation and the idea that things are not as they seem, all seem unrelated. But somehow all these themes coexist in perfect harmony in the second installment of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series.

Meet Rose Walker, a likeable, down-to-earth 20-something old who’s been summoned to England by someone she’s never met. Rose and her mother pack their bags and respond to the summons (stranger danger doesn’t apply if they paid for your plane ticket, apparently), it’s later revealed that this stranger is a dying Unity Kinkaid, one of the victims of a sleeping sickness that swept the world during Morpheus’ imprisonment. In the previous story, Unity was raped and gave birth to Rose’s mother while in a dream-coma. This continuation of Unity’s plotline wraps up a loose end that I never even considered, and ultimately shows off Gaiman’s genius.

Meanwhile, Morpheus returns to his realm, The Dreaming, only to find it devastated from his long absence. He sets out to remedy the most pressing matter; four dreams have escaped into the physical world. Morpheus finds Brute and Glob haunting the dreams of a significant (I won’t spoil it, but this kid really matters) young boy.

The third dream, The Corinthian is one of the trippiest characters I’ve ever come across, with mouths where his eyes should be, and an unhealthy habit of murdering people, The Corinthian is truly the stuff of nightmares. Morpheus finds him at a “Cereal Convention” that is…well…certainly not about Fruit Loops.

The fourth dream is Fiddler’s Green, who’s been travelling as Rose Walker’s companion, Gilbert, on a quest to find her lost brother. After the Prince of Dreams restores Gil to his true form in the Dreaming, a discovery is made that Rose’s mere existence threatens that of The Dreaming. Morpheus is ready to eliminate the threat to his realm.

This story is successful in developing the mythology surrounding Dream, by telling the stories of two encounters that the Endless creature has had with humans. The first is Nada, a mortal woman who stole his heart, but knew that loving an immortal was forbidden, and refused to pursue the relationship. Morpheus, being the immature, melodramatic (yet somehow really lovable?!) guy he is, banishes her to hell for refusing to be his queen. The second encounter involves Dream’s “friendship” with Hob, whom he made immortal to keep him company.

Submitted by Rachel Hill