The Doll's House is the second graphic novel collecting the works of the comic The Sandman
by Neil Gaiman
. Here I offer a rather detailed synopsis of the plot, so if you wish to be surprised when reading it, stop here. Most major and some minor plot details have been included.
An African tribesman tells his grandson a tale of the ancient queen Nada, who had no husband or interest in men until a stranger captured her heart as soon as she looked at him. She follows her dreams until she finds him, and finds out he is Dream of the Endless.
She doesn't want to be with him then because mortal people cannot love members of the Endless, so she tries to get away but Dream keeps chasing after her. To try and dissuade Dream from wanting her, she breaks her hymen with a rock, but he says that doesn't matter to him, and they make love.
The union between mortal and immortal causes the world to endure plagues. She kills herself to avert future plagues, but Dream still follows her, and demands she marry him or be sentenced to Hell. She refuses, and ends up in Hell.
It is revealed that Dream's brother/sister Desire was the cause of his love for Nada; Desire sometimes has it in for Dream. Desire now tries the next plot: to try to "bring dreams together" using a "vortex," which is actually a person, a girl named Rose Walker. (Despair, Desire's twin sister, is also introduced.)
Rose is traveling to the U.K. to meet her biological grandmother: Unity Kincaid, the woman who had "sleepy sickness" in Preludes and Nocturnes and was raped while sleeping. Rose is looking for Jed, her missing brother.
While the Sandman was imprisoned, four of his dream-creatures escaped, and he intends to use Rose to help capture them again, since she has a connection to dreams, though she is not aware of it. Dream's raven Matthew helps Dream keep tabs on Rose. She helps Dream find two of his dream-creations, Brute and Glob, who are living in Rose's brother Jed's mind. Brute and Glob have made a different version of the Sandman to help add realism to their farce; he is personified by the ghost of a dead superhero named Hector Hall. His wife Lyta somehow got sucked into this pretend universe as well--and she is six months pregnant, and has been for the last two years.
Dream meets the other version of himself, laughs, and makes him disappear without a thought. Lyta, his wife, yells at Dream, and he tells her to go get a life and that he will one day come for her baby, because she carried it for so long in the Dreamworld.
After Dream destroys Brute and Glob, he lets Jed, their host, go free on his own, and he is picked up by the Corinthian, who is the third Dreamworld escapee. Jed is put in the Corinthian's trunk as a snack for later; this dream spawn is a serial killer who eats eyeballs. He has a mouth in each eye socket as well as his normal one, and wears sunglasses to hide his eyes from view. He goes on his way to a serial killer convention, where Rose ends up also in the same hotel. Accompanying her is the fourth dreamspawn--Fiddler's Green, who appears in the dreamworld as a PLACE, not a person. He gives Rose a story about Little Red Riding Hood and a slip of paper reading "Morpheus," and later when a wolfish serial killer attacks her, she reads the word on the paper and Dream comes to rescue her. He then bursts into the convention and uncreates the Corinthian for doing a bad job as an inspiration of evil. Then he chastizes the other serial killers for thinking killing people makes them above mortals. Fiddler's Green--a.k.a. Gilbert--frees Jed from the Corinthian's trunk and he and Rose take him to the hospital.
Later on, Rose falls asleep, and her vortex ability begins to drag everyone's dreams together. A couple comically named Barbie and Ken, as well as some others sleeping around her, all end up blending together, and Dream has to stop it. He tells Rose that he has to kill her or the vortex will drag everyone's minds together and they'll all die. Her grandmother, Unity, enters the dream and insists SHE was supposed to be the vortex, and lets Dream take her instead, after Rose gives "the vortex" to her. Then Rose awakes, decides everything she saw was too fucked up, and that it must've been a dream.
Dream goes to speak with Desire about the vortex business, and Desire admits that s/he raped Unity to father Rose's mother, to set the whole thing in motion. Dream is mad because Desire almost caused him to kill his own kin, which is forbidden for unclear reasons but is very important. Dream lectures Desire that the Endless cannot warp mortals' lives or manipulate them because the mortals are the masters.
So the story goes on: Dream and Death enter a tavern in 1389; it's Death's attempt to get Dream out and about a bit. Geoffrey Chaucer's being criticized over his book, and Death and Dream listen. Then Hob Gadling is overheard telling other men that he refuses to die, because there's just too much to do still. Dream makes a pact with Hob, okayed by Death, that as long as he wishes he will not die, and is to meet Dream every one hundred years for an update on how he is doing.
And many of these hundred-year meetings are described; first meeting, Hob asks if he's made a deal with the devil, but Dream reassures him. Hob is now in the printing industry. Dream talks to William Shakespeare and asks favors in return for inspiration. The next meeting in a hundred years reveals Hob in depression, having lost his position in life and once drowned as a witch. Though he's hated everything about the last eighty years, he still wants to live. The next meeting in 1789 reveals Hob in the slave trade, which Dream despises. In 1889, at their next meeting, Hob accuses Dream of liking his company, and he tells him not to come if they're not friends next time. And in 1989, Hob and Dream meet again after Dream meets with Lyta Hall, and acknowledges Hob as his friend.
See the next Sandman book: Dream Country