Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, vol. 1) by Neil Gaiman
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Synopsis via Goodreads: “New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.
In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.”
Neil Gaiman’s epic graphic novel series The Sandman first came to my attention in a university seminar about 4 years ago. An instructor who I was on friendly terms with (as she was also my very dedicated and lovely academic advisor) loved Neil Gaiman, especially his series of graphic novels. At this point, I had heard of Gaiman’s writing but hadn’t read any of his work. So because I wasn’t familiar with his storytelling style I was initially turned off by The Sandman, in particular, the harsh, violent artwork. My instructor had brought a few samples from the series into the seminar and after a quick glance I determined that The Sandman wasn’t for me. Apparently, I needed time to fall in love with Gaiman’s novels and short stories before attempting The Sandman again. And if you read my blog frequently, you’ll know that in 4 years since this seminar I have become a huge fan of his work. But I still hadn’t given The Sandman another shot, which at this point was long overdue.
So Saturday I was at my high street’s Waterstones with a completed loyalty stamp card looking for a book to use my free £10 on. After skimming through nearly everything in the speculative fiction sections I decided to join my fiance at the graphic novels. I admit, I have tried to read The Watchmen by Alan Moore on two separate occasions and could not get into it (please don’t hate me). But I used to read a lot of manga and some comic books and I enjoyed a few of the Ender’s Game graphic novels so I decided it was time to give this section of the bookstore another shot. Conveniently, the first volume of Gaiman’s The Sandman, Preludes & Nocturnes was ready and waiting for me and… Best. Purchase. Ever.
Once I began reading I thought back to my initial distaste for the visuals 4 years ago and… yeah, I get why I wasn’t completely into it. But now that I’m so familiar with Neil Gaiman and his work all I can think is just HOW Neil Gaiman The Sandman is. The visuals, the story, the characters, the world are just everything I love about him and his ginormous and darkly hilarious imagination. The artwork by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III is the perfect combination of creepy and beautiful while complimenting Gaiman’s storytelling in all the right ways.
There were numerous occasions reading Preludes & Nocturnes that I admit to having no idea what was actually going on as worlds and dreams combined together from page to page. But the chaos is balanced with moments of tranquillity and dark humour which adds to how fun, entertaining and deeply thoughtful this book was. I’m intrigued by the character of Morpheus (also known as Dream or The Sandman), a sympathetic and lost being who appears far more frightening in his 90s goth attire than he actually is. This first volume has me fascinated with his character and I’m excited to follow him through the next instalments.
I recommend this book to anyone that loves Neil Gaiman’s work, particularly his brand of dark humour and love for personifying mythological beings. This is also a great book for fans of the DC Universe as numerous familiar characters and settings (including John Constantine and Arkham Asylum) make appearances throughout. Be warned because, like me, you will probably stay up way too late reading this as it’s absolutely impossible to put down once you start going. Best to start reading it if you don’t have work/school early the next morning! And on a slightly more series note, this is not a great book for the faint of heart as some of the imagery can be a bit gruesome and disturbing, and there are mentions of some upsetting material throughout. All the more fun for me, but maybe not the type of book for you.
I’m going to buy the next volume, The Doll’s House when I have more money to throw at as many volumes in The Sandman series as possible. The downside to graphic novels is they are often much more expensive than regular paperbacks and I don’t really want to read these on my Kindle (where they are a lot cheaper) as I feel I would be missing out on the proper impact of the illustrations. But it’s honestly so, so worth it. This was an easy 5-star review because as far as I’m concerned, Preludes & Nocturnes is the perfect, flawless book that I will likely read again in the near future (if not tonight!). I can’t read to carry on with the series.
If anyone has any graphic novel suggestions I would love to hear about them. Let me know in the comments!