After my deep enjoyment of Dream Country, I worried that I wouldn’t enjoy anything as much as that “Midsummer Night’s Dream” episode. But seriously, that’s foolishness on my part. Neil is a great writer, and I should just trust him, right? Right. While this serial was not my favorite in the series, I did find the enhancement of Dream’s personal narrative to be a worthy one. I think that it complicated the series and Dream himself.
This volume seems to connect to Dream’s larger story arc. Here, Death challenges her brother to find a woman he consigned to Hell and release her, since he was too harsh on her. Dream agrees, not knowing if he will survive a second trip to Hell, especially if he has to deal with Lucifer. But through a series of unexpected events, Dream accidentally inherits the key to hell. And that’s when all hell breaks loose (kind of literally, mostly figuratively). Suddenly imbued with an incredible power he never wanted, Dream must navigate a set of politics that could end his existence, if he’s not careful. His quest for the woman he’s wronged is also quite moving, and makes you understand that he is not a perfect or always morally sound character.
There are hints to other of the siblings, especially a missing one. I’m intrigued by the possibility of the universe that Gaiman has set up. I feel that he’s given us a lot to think about with Dream’s story arc, but enough episodic moments to enjoy that aren’t limiting or annoying. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next installment brings to the series.