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Death: The High Cost of Living Paperback – June 1, 1994

4.4 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The High Cost of Living is a continuation of Harvey Award-winning fantasy writer Gaiman's series detailing the cosmic duties of a loose family of seven immortals. Not quite Gods, they embody realms of psychic experience: Dream, Desire, Despair, Destiny, Delirium, Destruction and Gaiman's very popular character, Death. Reaper, yes; but Death's not very grim as she goes about her business visiting the just-about-to-die and ushering them into their new existence. In this story she meets Sexton, a teenager contemplating suicide, and they end up searching New York City to find a witch's heart (the old hag hid it centuries ago, it's a witch tradition), so the old girl can hide it again. Up pops the Eremite, an evil wizard type, out to steal Death's mysterious necklace, who makes the usual threats against life and limb. Gaiman has created a character sweetly at odds with her modbid duties; dressed like a Satanic rocker, she's as pretty as a cheerleader and even more upbeat. While Gaiman brings a gritty urban contemporaneity to the fantasy genre, the story also suffers from a TV script-like sensibility--danger-defying quips, the good-hearted overweight black neighbor, melodramatic villain. Nevertheless the combination of wry mystic immortal and MTV slacker produces an engaging chemistry. Top-notch production, and although the illustration is a bit stiff, it's stylishly rendered and very nicely colored. The introduction is by pop singer Tori Amos.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Series: Death
  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Vertigo; 1St Edition edition (June 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563891336
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563891335
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.2 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
The woman you are about to meet isn't called Death just because the tuff-sounding name compliments her heavy eye make up and black jeans. She really is Death, the reaper, the one who takes you away when you have had it. It turns out the cloak and the scyth thing were just bad press; there's nothing grim about her after all. Neil Gaiman fashions Death after the story in the Caballa where the Angel of Death is so beautiful that upon finaly seeing it (him or her)you fall in love so hard, so fast that your soul is pulled out through your eyes. He didn't want a death that agonized over her role, or who took grim delight in her job, or who didn't care. He wanted a Death that you'd like to meet, in the end. Someone who would care. I think he succeeded. Though there is a family resembalce between her and her younger brother Sandman she is in many ways his opposite, sensible, delightful, and nice. This novel version of the three part mini series that helped launch DC-Vertigo follows Death through the streets of New York in 1993. It's turns out one day in every century Death takes on mortal flesh, better to comprehend what the lives she takes must feel like, to taste the bitter tang of mortality: And this is the price she must pay for being the divider of the living from all that has gone before, all that must come after. She embodies the 16 year old Didi, whos family recently died in a car accident. We enter clueless, as Sexton does. As his understanding grows about her true self so does ours. The plot twists and drops out from under your many times,leading you on a merry goosechase of emotions.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Meet Sexton Furnival. Sexton is a well-spoken, intelligent lad, whose best friend is the mute, wheelchair-bound kid in the apartment down the corridor from he and his mother's (an unfortunately not quite burned-out hippie) and a dead ringer for Kurt Cobain (both physically and in attitude). Here's what Sexton isn't: in love with anyone, or hating anyone. In other words, his life ain't feeling particularly Hollywood right now. He doesn't feel the point to Life. So, in typical short-sighted 90's-youth fashion, he's going to take his own life. In a garbage dump, of all places. And for his trouble, he gets pinned under a fridge.
Enter his savior, a young gal by the name of Didi, who we (being the faithful fans of Gaiman's Sandman that I know we all are) instantly recognize as the one and only Death of the Endless, looking slightly less pale, more chipper (if that's possible) and a little younger (about 16) than usual. She's spending her one day-per-century as an orphaned
girl living alone in NYC. Sexton takes the information in stride. ("Uh... right. So. I suppose you must do a lot of drugs.")
Problems ensue, of course. Mad Hettie, who has popped up in Sandman (Preludes & Nocturnes, for the uninitiated), holds Sexton at gunpoint (well... pointy broken wine bottlepoint), demanding that Didi go off and fetch her heart for her. She's hidden it, you see, and forgotten where she left it. And a chap by the name of "The Eremite" is after Death's signature ankh she wears about her neck.
Here's what Death: The High Cost of Living isn't:
Plot-heavy. All the better for it. Both plots sort of fizzle, but in good ways.
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Format: Paperback
I used to read "Sandman", in its early days. I thought Death was a pretty cool character (if a trifle over-imitated by Gothling chicks). There are several incarnations of Death as imagined by people -- one of them is the well-known "skeletal guy with the scythe". Another is the "Gay Deceiver", which is more how I see this Death -- handsome, personable, approachable. Gaiman, who has shown himself to have an exquisite handling of leitmotifs, does his usual good job here. The story is well-told, with few false notes.
The story is simple and does not assume any previous knowledge of "Sandman". Didi, a Gothling, saves the teenaged Sexton's life when he figures out at the last second that he really doesn't want to die. Though Didi's existence is quite explainable (she has neighbors who know her, and photos of her family in her apartment), she claims to be only a few hours old -- and she says she is the incarnation of Death. Sexton, a cynical grunger, doesn't believe it at all, but he ends up hanging around anyway. Didi has a lust for life and all sensations it holds, from the good taste of food to the pleasure of "a really good party". She also has major problems in the form of a few supernatural folks looking for her, including a creepy old mage looking for her ankh necklace (thinking that she puts her power into it, like Dream did his toys), and a British bag lady who's lost her heart and thinks Didi can find it. After 24 hours, Didi dies, having changed Sexton's outlook permanently. He never knows if she is what she claimed.
It is a sweet story, with none of the superhero bombast pervading comics today. Death has a nice day out and shows a very human side of her personality. When she dies, she whispers "No. Please." She doesn't want to die.
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