Neil Gaiman – Death: The High Cost of Living
Length: 104 pages
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Started: 14 June 2009
Finished: 14 June 2009
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? This rounds out the Sandman-related material that the library is willing to buy for me.
Death, as a human,
is even more awesome… if
that is possible.
Summary: Once every century, Death of the Endless must spend one day as a human, so that she knows what life, and what mortality really feel like. On this one day, she encounters Sexton Furnival, a jaded and bored sixteen-year-old. Sexton thinks she’s just some strange girl with a tenuous grip on sanity, but as he tags along, he can’t help but be charmed by her joyful, whimsical, open approach to life. The day is not entirely full of wonderful things, however: Mad Hettie is pestering Death to find her heart, which she hid over a hundred years ago, and a creature who calls himself the Eremite is trying to steal her ankh, and so gain the source of her power. This collection also includes a brief PSA about AIDS entitled “Death Talks About Life.”
Review: I don’t know how anyone could read this and not come out smitten with Death. She’s been my favorite of the Endless since her first appearance in the Sandman series, and seeing her actually getting to experience life as a mortal is thoroughly charming. There’s something reassuring, too, in the idea that Death is a cute and perky Goth girl, someone who already knows you, and welcomes you, and is kind and will listen to you and cares about your life.
As a story… I don’t know. Not all of the plot threads are thoroughly woven in, particularly about the Eremite, which you might think would leave things feeling somewhat unresolved. At base, there’s not a whole lot to this story other than watching Death bubble her way around New York City trailing Sexton in her wake… but she’s so charming that it’s just about enough.
Again, I wish I’d read this one a little closer to where it falls in the timeline of the main Sandman series – not because it doesn’t make sense out of order, but because I know many of the characters in this volume (Mad Hettie, for one) have shown up elsewhere, and it’s been long enough that I can’t remember the details. There’s also a scene involving Hazel and Foxglove that gets shown in flashback/memory in Death: The Time of Your Life, so that was a neat little connection to what I’d already read (out of order). 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Most enjoyable as a character piece rather than a story proper, but if you haven’t yet met Death, this can be picked up independent of the main Sandman volumes, and she’s sure to charm your socks off.
First Line: “Mad Hettie? We got it for you.”