Endless Nights review – Toronto Star

Robert Wiersema repoted the following Endless Nights review to the October 12th Toronto Star:

With Endless Nights, fantasy writer Neil Gaiman – who was awarded his second Hugo Award last month in Toronto for the wicked kids’ novel Coraline – returns to The Sandman, the award-winning comic series that revolutionized the medium in the late 1980s.

The Sandman is the story of Dream of the Endless, tapping into mythology, religion, folklore, history and literature to create a vividly imagined and richly human tale that is, unlike most examples of the medium, more widely read today than when first published.

The Endless are seven siblings, anthropomorphic personifications of aspects of consciousness. The eldest, Destiny, existed before life appeared. Death appeared with the first life and the other Endless – Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delight (who became Delirium) – followed.

When Death, usually depicted as a warm, funny and attractive goth girl, turns out the light on the last living being, be it a human being or a universe, Destiny will close his book and disappear.

The glossy, hardcover Endless Nights features seven stories, each self-contained and largely self-explanatory, depicting each of the Endless. Newcomers to The Sandman will miss the references in which long-time readers will revel, but it’s a good best opportunity to meet the family.

Gaiman picked seven artists, tailoring his storytelling to their artistic styles. The results are never less than appropriate, at times sublime.

“Death And Venice,” about an island where a single day is repeated endlessly, its participants inured against Death, serves as a straightforward entry to the volume. The story is complemented by P. Craig Russell’s rich yet realistic artwork.

Baron Storey’s dissonant, abstracted images are a sublime mirror for “Fifteen Portraits Of Despair,” probably the strongest story here, a breathtaking evocation of misery in a few of its guises. Deeply troubling, it will resonate and haunt long after the volume is closed.

Less successful is Dream’s story, set in the infancy of the universe, illustrated by Miguelanxo Prado. It seems trifling, lacking the weight of others. “Endless Nights,” which features Destiny, covers ground that has been adequately covered in previous Sandman volumes. It serves well as a valediction, however, a possible farewell, perhaps, to the stories of the Endless as a whole. One hopes not.