In this graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Yoshitako Amano’s illustrated novella, the spirit of Japanese myth lives on and intersects with Gaiman’s popular Sandman series.
A fox accepts a wager from a badger to trick a young monk out of his temple home. Although the fox tries to lure him away by changing into a seductive human woman, she loses both the wager and her heart when the monk sees through her ruse. When a demonic plot arises, both fox and monk gamble everything to save the other, with a little help from the cold and elusive King of All Night's Dreamings.
Gaiman's tale, while purely the invention of the author, preserves the essentials of Japanese mythology in all their bittersweet glory. Demons and witches plague the innocent. The sweet but doomed love story at once captures and breaks the reader's heart. Most of all, both the mischievous and vengeful sides of fox magic shape the tale, paying homage to the fox's role as trickster in Japan as well as many other cultures. The King of All Night's Dreamings, who follows his own strict, unemotional code, fits in so neatly with the other players that even readers unfamiliar with Sandman won't bat an eye at his inclusion.
Rich, subtle coloring draws the reader into the dynamic illustrations. Russell took the inspiration for the book's art from 17th, 18th, and 19th century Japanese woodcuts, and the resulting chunky yet intricate style leaves the eye dazzled. Russell's attention to character and detail is impressive; for example, when in human form, the fox's russet robe often flows at the hem into the shape of a fox tail, a small reminder of her true nature.
Whether read as a stand alone or in concert with the rest of the Sandman series, The Dream Hunters is sure to delight and inspire.