The second book in the Sandman series begins with an insight into the Dream Lord’s troubled love life. From the tale of Nada, we are introduced to Desire, who is possibly the second most intriguing character in this entire universe, after Dream. Desire is one of the younger Endless siblings, after Destiny, Death & Dream. Desire is both male and female, whimsical, cruel and is described in the following manner:
“Is there something you crave?
Something sexual? Something precious? Someone special? Anything?
Then you have felt it. It’s there – in the longing, in the lust, the breath of Desire, the caress of the threshold.”
The story then abruptly moves on to The Walker family, scattered across the globe and finding each other in a series of unbearably dramatic circumstances. The eldest Walker is Unity Kincaid (One of the ‘sleep sickness’ victims from the first book), the youngest is harbouring demons in his head that are actually dreams gone rogue from their realm, during the Sandman’s imprisonment. The narrative moves on to a serial killers’ convention, an abused 11-year-old boy and the weird story playing out in his head with an alternate Sandman. Right through the middle of the book, the narrative is interrupted by a shorter Dream story, “Men of Good Fortune” which talks about an unusual friendship. This back-and-forth style, interspersed with anecdotes and peppered with references to history, fantasy, religion and folklore, sets the tone for how the Dream narrative unfolds across the remaining books too – just like regular dreams.
I loved “Men of Good Fortune” for its brilliant lines (a regular Sandman characteristic) but also because it provided respite from the harsh grittiness of the Walker story. Rose Walker is an important character in the larger narrative and this sequence of events, necessary for the story as it goes on. But still, it is a brutal tale and moments of sweetness provided by these shorter stories are what keep it palatable for us.