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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best arc of the decade's best series
THE DOLL'S HOUSE is the arc that Gaiman himself says is where he realised what he wanted to do with the characters and where he wanted to go with the SANDMAN story. This edition begins with two stories that both stand apart from the rest of the series, but that also both have significant influence on THE DOLL'S HOUSE storyline and beyond. The first, "The Sound of...
Published on April 13, 1999

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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The rougher, earlier Sandman
The Sandman of the late eighties was not quite the majestic, surreal series that became the most celebrated comic book of the 1990s. Instead, it was an odd mixture of horror, fantasy and typical DC fare. They were loaded with potential but the early issues of Sandman seem rough and awkward compared to the brilliant material of a few years hence.
The Doll's House,...
Published on August 31, 2003 by P. Nicholas Keppler


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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best arc of the decade's best series, April 13, 1999
By A Customer
THE DOLL'S HOUSE is the arc that Gaiman himself says is where he realised what he wanted to do with the characters and where he wanted to go with the SANDMAN story. This edition begins with two stories that both stand apart from the rest of the series, but that also both have significant influence on THE DOLL'S HOUSE storyline and beyond. The first, "The Sound of Her Wings" introduces Dream's big sister in a profound and moving tale about the value of spending a day with Death as she goes about her business sending people to their next life. The next tale introduces Nada, Dream's doomed mortal love, who will play a significant part in a later arc, SEASONS OF MISTS. Then, THE DOLL'S HOUSE begins, a tale involving escaped dreams and nightmares, a human vortex and her granmother who had spent the bulk of her life asleep (see the previous PRELUDES AND NOCTURNS), and Dream's quest to prevent the dissolution of his kingdom. What makes Gaiman's writing so unique is that not only does he reject the comic book obligatory of big fist-fights to SAVE THE WORLD (and all that), but that Dream is not even the central character in these stories. Instead, Rose Walker is. It is she, not Dream, who is threatened and who goes on the emotional roller-coaster and it is to find out what happens to her that the reader keeps reading. In fact, Dream - the "hero" of this title - at what point nearly kills her to save his kingdom! Magnificent writing, magical artistry, this story is an absolute must. Buy it. Buy several. It makes a great gift.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...indescribable..., January 14, 2000
Second in the Sandman comic book series, The Doll's House is much better than its predecessor, Preludes and Nocturnes. I find that with most Sandman stories, you read the whole thing just going "wow, this is really cool"...and then just when you thought it couldn't get better, at the end Neil Gaiman suddenly ties it together and leaves you absolutely breathless.

The Doll's House is probably the most disturbing Sandman, along with P&N, but it's also one of the most beautiful, one of the best. It features the first appearance of Dream's sister/brother Desire, and the story of Dream and Nada, and this guy called the Corinthian who's going to a Cereal Convention. There's something kinda weird about his eyes. You'll see... <g>
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The vortex, immortality and "cereal", June 25, 2001
By 
In the second Sandman collection, the reader starts to realize that Gaiman has some long range plans for this series. The tale of Rose Walker, the dream vortex who must be killed to save The Dreaming, is a complex one. The Doll House introduces the reader to many of the characters who would have a major effect on Gaiman's plans for the series. Particularly excellent is the tale of Hob Gadling, who becomes Dream's friend when he becomes the man "Death will not touch." Their meetings each century are little history lessons so well executed they make you wish for more. The "Cereal" convention, with special guest lecturer the Corinthian, is a scary look at the fascination with serial killers and the final twist involving Desire gives the reader some insight into the relationship of Dream with his siblings. This book really shows what a truly original creation The Sandman is.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The rougher, earlier Sandman, August 31, 2003
By 
P. Nicholas Keppler "rorscach12" (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Sandman of the late eighties was not quite the majestic, surreal series that became the most celebrated comic book of the 1990s. Instead, it was an odd mixture of horror, fantasy and typical DC fare. They were loaded with potential but the early issues of Sandman seem rough and awkward compared to the brilliant material of a few years hence.
The Doll's House, Sandman's second volume, presents Neil Gaiman's first attempt at a large-scale story arc (The series' first eight issues, collected in Preludes and Nocturnes, were interconnected but were, for the most part, individual episodes). Like most Sandman story arcs, The Doll's House is quite multifaceted. Later, Gaiman would master the art of unfolding intricate story arcs with masterful precision, but on The Doll's House, he has yet to reach his peak. Thus, this is not a great story arc but a cumbersome one that has occasional moments of greatness.
It is difficult to recap the plot of The Doll's House, as it is a messy one that slowly unveils itself as the story moves along. The least one must know before delving into any Sandman volume is that the series focuses on the "realm of dreams," and its ruler, Morpheus, a God-like being with the attitude of a morose 20-something. The Doll's House finds the dream king tracking down several inhabitants of his dominion who fled during the decades he was imprisoned by a sorcerer (see Preludes and Nocturnes) and also dealing with a "dream vortex" that has manifested itself in a punk-ish young woman named Rose Walker. Rose is searching for her lost brother, Jed, who is locked in the cellar of his abusive aunt and uncle. Given his connection to the dream vortex, it is no coincidence that Jed is experiencing strange dreams involving The Fury and The Silver Scarab of the superhero team, Infinity Inc.
Although the larger story of The Doll's House does not quite succeed, two episodes that stand somewhat independently of it do. One is "Collectors," in which Rose's search somehow brings her to a trade convention for serial killers. This tale is ingenious; a horror story that is somehow funny, terrifying and wholly original at the same time. The other is the prelude, "Tales in the Sand," in which an African tribesman indoctrinates his grandson into manhood by telling him the legend a queen and her tragic love affair with Morpheus. This chapter first demonstrated Gaiman's appreciation of indigenous folklore and his remarkable ability to weave it into the Sandman mythos. It is moments like these in which one can see Sandman shaping into something wonderful. However, when the focus is on the Walker siblings, the missing denizens of the dream world, a couple of obscure superheroes and the confusing connections between them, The Doll's House is a frustrating read at best.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More great storytelling, July 19, 2003
By 
If the first Sandman collection, Preludes and Nocturnes drew you into the world of dreams with its wonderful characters, and unconventional storytelling, then The Doll's House is your first of many rewards for sticking with the series. While the first book was mainly composed of plot and character introduction, The Doll's House gets to jump right into a very intriguing and complex story that is as original as it is satisfying. Filled with creepy and colorful new acquaintances, including members of Morpheus' endless family, this second volume proves more interesting than its predecessor.
The reason I give this four stars is because there are better books in the series, and though more immersive than Preludes and Nocturnes, it still only scratches the surface of the dazzling work of fiction that is Neil Gaiman's Sandman. In every way provocative and entertaining, The Doll's House will likely spur you on to continue devouring this dark fantasy epic.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dream me a dream, November 11, 2004
I belong to that great unwashed mass of people who have not yet read every Sandman comic collection in existence. I came to the series only recently, and as such I decided to systematically work my way through each chapter in the Sandman Chronicles. Thus far, I have finished two (count `em) two collections of the series. The first was the well-known and regarded "Preludes and Nocturnes". The second is the less regarded, "Doll's House". Before I picked up this collection I was informed by my husband that with this collection he no longer felt the necessity to read any more Sandman comics. Something in this book turned him off the series for good. Bearing that in mind I went into "The Doll's House" with some trepidation. It is a difficult book at times, and probably has a small flaw here and there. Nonetheless, I found it just as enticing and well-written (better illustrated even) than its predecessor. "The Doll's House" does not, contrary to the opinion of some, disappoint.

The last chapter in "Preludes and Nocturnes" is included at the beginning of this book, allowing people who skipped the first to still understand the second. And if THAT wasn't enough then Neil Gaiman himself has included a helpful introduction that sums up everything that has come before. The first official story of this collection is a little bleaker. An elder African man tells a story to a younger of the only woman the Sandman ever loved and the consequences that arose from that loving. It is a good way to telling the reader right off the bat that our hero is not, at times, much in the way of a good guy. In fact, he can be downright evil and petty. Other stories are less disturbing (in that particular way). We meet Rose and view her adventures as she attempts to locate a long lost little brother. We find that the Sandman, while he was imprisoned for so many years, has lost four of his major arcana dreams and he must personally track them down. As he does so, his destiny and the destiny of Rose herself become intertwined.

Gaiman does a couple things with this book that I highly approved of. For one thing, he finally makes a direct reference to the great "Little Nemo" comics of Winsor McCay. You would think the greatest dreaming comic strip (until "The Sandman", of course) would have earned itself a mention before now. As it is, Gaiman does a spot-on imitation of McCay's style. Other elements in the collection are especially good. There is a storyline about a man who wishes to never die, and who meets with Morpheus in a pub every one hundred years throughout the centuries. There's a rather amusing convention of serial killers who tell the hotel hosting them that they are a cereal convention. And then there's the fact that Gaiman is constantly bringing elements from previous plots into current ones. The dreams in this book are remarkably similar to those you've had in your sleep. His nightmares, however, are worse. Much worse than anything you might conjure up from your own unconscious.

I don't think this collection is quite as strong as its predecessor, but it doesn't have to be. It's just a well-written exciting fantasy about a nicely mysterious protagonist. It's amazing how Gaiman can take a hero who basically has all the powers of the world at his command and still keep the plotline interesting. It's also not every graphic novel that ends with you mentally pleading for the hero NOT to kill someone. A nice touch. Overall, a strong companion to previous Sandman efforts.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Kindle edition, but imperfect, December 17, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I loved these stories in the trade paperback form, and I really looked forward to them on the Kindle Fire. The new Kindle Fire Comics with the pop-out panels are a surprisingly nice way to read comics; and I thought Watchmen in this format was a masterpiece. But I also knew Watchmen had a significant advantage in this regard: the entire series was drawn with an extremely regular panel grid, with only rare deviations. So pop-up rectangular panels suited it well. I expected the format to be more challenging for something with more panel variety -- especially something as downright experimental as Sandman.

So I expected some of the pop-out choices to be difficult. I was ready to tolerate some unusual choices. And for the most part, they handled it well. They did a nice job with challenging panels like wide or tall panels with dialog balloons in many places. They even did an OK job with some of the rotated panels.

But in a few places, they just plain got it wrong. In some places they got the dialog order wrong, so an response pops out before the statement that prompted it. And in a few cases, they missed a dialog balloon entirely; and the only way I could read it was to switch to page mode.

So I knocked off a star for the imperfections. I hope DC takes the time to fix these after the mad rush of releasing 100 Kindle Fire Comics at once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A big step forward, September 4, 2003
By 
The Peruvian Wunderkind (Mississauga, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
It is finally with this collection that Gaiman demonstrates his (immense) potential and the Sandman series deserves its acclaimed reputation. Gone are the awkward - and sometimes boring- story arcs and borrowed characters from other titles. <The Doll's House> takes place almost entirely in a parrallel universe constructed by the imagination of the narrator: a fascinating place where dream and day are closely intermeshed. Each narrative in the collection adeptly stands on its own, unlike some stories in the previous collection (<Preludes and Nocturnes>), which seemed to demand a prior knowledge of the DC comic universe; an unfortunate circumstance, really, seeing that none of these references had the complexity and originality of Gaiman's own creations. <The Doll's House> is ample proof that Gaiman works best with an empty canvass.
I generally agree with many of the other reviews that complement the complexity of the characters, or applaud Gaiman's ability to tell a great story. However, one feature of the Sandman series that is often overlooked is Gaiman's wicked sense of humour. Indeed, Gaiman is often at his funniest when he really has no right to be - when describing moments of horror. In <Preludes and Nocturnes,> "24 Hours" adeptly balanced horror with humour, and Gaiman does the same in this collection with "Collectors," a story which concentrates almost exclusively on serial killers. While, on the surface, mass murder wouldn't appear to be particularly amusing, Gaiman contrives a scenario where famous serial killers attend a "Cereal" convention at a hotel. The story is a hilarious send-up of the features of conventions as well as the cult of serial killers. His usage of humour at such times is a brilliant rhetorical tool that questions and interrogates what is funny. Unlike other writers in the genre, Gaiman skilfully uses humour to underpin the motifs of many of his narratives.
At times, however, the narrative seems to assume that we're on the same page as Gaiman, and able to navigate our way throughout his universe as adroitly as him. Complex ideas are barely explained, or not explained at all. Although some of my difficulties were resolved near the end of the collection (especially what constitutes a "dream vortex"), others never were. Whether this was a failure on my part or a flaw of the narration, I can't tell for certain. Perhaps the narrative was even meant to disorient and overwhelm us, as strangers in a strange dream.
That small (potential) criticism aside, this is great literature, no mere comic book. Gaiman transcends the graphic novel medium with this collection and delivers a terrific and brilliant read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ...nothing like a doll at all..., October 2, 2006
By 
What I particularly enjoy about Neil Gaiman is his ability to build a story from the foundation going forward. So many times, we have authors or illustrators that take the campy way out by using flashbacks, amateurish jumps, or just plain forgetfulness as they attempt to keep the reader's attention by quickly arriving to the climax or resolution (or better yet the gasp of a twist ending). Gaiman does no such thing with his "Sandman" stories. While this second collection of his graphic novels doesn't quite match to the standard of "Preludes & Nocturnes", it is because it is a building block for future stories. What I especially love about Gaiman's writing and choice of stories is that he is not afraid to take us away from our comfortable characters and begin planting the seed for more interesting events going forward. It is like the television series "Lost", events happen for a reason, and Gaiman is very willing to dedicate just as much time to those smaller stories as he does our overall story because he knows the value of amazing (and concise) storytelling. I love this series, but this collection "A Doll's House" is a sampling of smaller stories that will obviously be used as bigger events in the future.

Those that drooled over the first collection (as I surely did), may be in for a bit of a shock with this one because he isn't using pop culture techniques as he did with the opening, he is instead building his characters. Gaiman pulls you into this chapter with an opening that transcends time. He uses simple natives to tell an ageless story that builds the foundation for this story. He frames it well, and then pushes us deep into the constantly changing world of Rose Walker. We follow Rose through a majority of this story as she is re-introduced to her life. She has powers she is unaware of, and guardians that her in place to protect her. Gaiman is not afraid to get dirty and gritty with this story. He takes us to a "Cereal" convention, where all darkness confines itself to one hotel. He demonstrates the emotional level of his title character by giving him a lifelong friend Hob Gadling. He even gives us some sibling rivalry with a shocking ending that begins to set the stage for future family squabbles.

This is second collection is meaty, because if you are not reading it as future possibilities, then you may see this collection as nothing more than jumpy tangents. When I first read it, I was utterly disappointed because I had trouble following the path Gaiman was building. I walked into this one expecting the same from the first collection, but it was completely different. Again, at first I was not as rejoiced, but as I read it a second time, it clicked in my mind. I saw the full circle that Gaiman was headed; I saw his clues set early in the book, and I was able to see the path much clearer. This collection will push those that really want to be engulfed with the Sandman world deeper into the rabbit hole, or it will push those casual readers further away. I had to read this twice to see the brilliance behind Gaiman's words and world, but it was well worth it. I cannot wait to see where we are guided next.

Overall, I am giving this book one star less not because the quality was anything less, but merely because Gaiman did change direction on us rather quickly, but by my second reading it worked. I loved the ties into the first book and the hints of future conflicts. A question I have running through my mind is, "Is this book better or worse than the first collection?" After much thought, I have come to the conclusion that neither are better or worse, but both stand on their own. Gaiman doesn't pull as much from the DC world (like hints of the JLA or John Constantine), but I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much if it were just a rehash of the first book. I liked this book because it challenges you more than the first. The artwork is brilliant, the stories are far superior than anything I have read before, and it is one of those graphic novels that pulls both your emotions, or eyes, as well as your mind, and that is a difficult combination to find out there. I highly suggest this book to those that are eager to see where "the Sandman" is headed next, but beware, this is a foundation book, and what it builds for next will leave you chomping at the bits!

Grade: **** out of *****
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Sandman, still exciting, November 7, 2003
By 
C.B. Derrick (From the 2.20 Aspect Ratio) - See all my reviews
I had the entire hardcover volumes of The Sandman series sitting on my bookshelf for about the last six years or so, having only read PRELUDES & NOCTURNES (I was first introduced to Gaiman's Sandman back in the early 90s, starting with issue 50 and then stopping right before the final KINDLY ONES, story arc - hoping to read it all in a few chunks, but that never happened) and planning on getting around to the other volumes soon -- well, soon stretched on to a several years, but I started reading again - choosing vol.2 THE DOLL'S HOUSE as my new jumping on point.
Gaiman's story unfolded like a weird experience, much like reading his American Gods or Coraline, and it became more fascinating with each pasisng issue, then ultimately becoming disturbing in the episode called "The Collectors" where Gaiman satirically addresses a Serial Killer Convention, that is remarkable as it is unsettling. Not to mention the first appearances of additional members of The Endless family.
After I closed the final pages, I immediately wanted to pick up DREAM COUNTY (the next volume)- but it was 3:45 in morning, and I need to my own sleep!
Seeming all the little pieces of later story that Gaiman laid the foundation for in these early adventures with his version of Morpheus is quite astounding, as if he had a masterplan all along -- and mabye he did! But I kind of think that Gaiman, like many a great storyteller, created an immense landscape and that he then saw could be a fanatastic tapestry for creative output; where any and every idea could be explored with the confines of The Dreaming. And the characters he created were too juicy not to continue to weave complex and LARGE story around.
Gaiman succeeds brilliantly, as the rest of the series will surely attest.
A lot of Gaiman's work for THE SANDMAN can't be catergorized, nor should it - it effectively evades being ghettoized (eventhough it's a comic book) and that's why it's all the more winning as a piece of late 20th Century literature. Please read.
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The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House
The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House by Neil Gaiman (Paperback - October 19, 2010)
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