The Sandman by Niel Gaiman & Dirk Maggs (Audible) | Review

At long last, Audible and DC present the first-ever audio production of the New York Times best-selling series written by acclaimed storyteller Neil Gaiman (who also serves as co-executive producer). Adapted and directed by multi-award-winner (and frequent Gaiman collaborator) Dirk Maggs, and performed by an ensemble cast with James McAvoy (It, Parts One and Two, X-Men: First Class, Split) in the title role, this first installment of a multi-part original audio series will transport you to a world that re-writes the rules of audio entertainment the way that The Sandman originally re-defined the graphic novel.

When The Sandman, also known as Lord Morpheus – the immortal king of dreams, stories and the imagination – is pulled from his realm and imprisoned on Earth by a nefarious cult, he languishes for decades before finally escaping. Once free, he must retrieve the three “tools” that will restore his power and help him to rebuild his dominion, which has deteriorated in his absence. As the multi-threaded story unspools, The Sandman descends into Hell to confront Lucifer (Michael Sheen), chases rogue nightmares who have escaped his realm, and crosses paths with an array of characters from DC comic books, ancient myths, and real-world history, including: Inmates of Gotham City’s Arkham Asylum, Doctor Destiny, the muse Calliope, the three Fates, William Shakespeare (Arthur Darvill), and many more. 

A powerhouse supporting cast helps translate this masterwork into a sonic experience worthy of its legacy, including Riz Ahmed, Kat Dennings, Taron Egerton, Samantha Morton, Bebe Neuwirth, Andy Serkis, and more. Setting the stage for their performance is an unprecedented cinematic soundscape featuring an original musical score by British Academy Award winner James Hannigan. Fans will especially revel in a new twist for the audio adaptation: Neil Gaiman himself serves as the narrator. Follow him as he leads listeners along a winding path of myths, imagination and, often, terror. Even in your wildest dreams, you’ve never heard anything like this.

How was it?

When this was announced I got excited about the cast attached to it and the opportunity to dive into this story I had heard so much about, and I did. A few years before the first trailer for the Netflix adaptation arrived I dived into this story, not having a clue about the visuals but I totally got sucked in.

I loved the world-building, the connections to other DC characters, Dirk Maggs did such a great job, there are a lot of little details that make the experience even better. The audiobook is filled with atmospheric sounds that really help paint a picture. I was totally immersed in that world through sound alone, which is why I blazed through most of the story in three days.

But for some reason, I paused this audiobook as the story started to settle down a bit, when the pace got a bit slower – Just like it did in the show. What a fortuitous pause it turned out to be, I paused the audiobook a bit before the Rose Walker storyline got concluded. So when the series came around I had no clue about how it ended, I wanted to finish the audible before watching the show but decided not to because I prefer when there’s some time between when I read a book and see its adaptation. The show felt very familiar throughout, even without the blatant DC universe connections but I also discovered how Rose’s story ended. I have to say that I prefer how it was done in live-action since in this audiobook it comes out of nowhere.

After the excitement I got from watching the Netflix show during my book hiatus I was excited to find out that there were more stories to listen to after Rose Walker’s storyline. I enjoyed those and the book ended with me wanting more. I have the second volume and I’ll dive into it later.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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