Mike Carey’s The Furies, illustrated by John Bolton, is another spin off from Neil Gaiman’s series The Sandman, and captures that same blend of myth and everyday life that was such a striking feature of Gaiman’s work.
The story in Furies picks up with Lyta Hall, who first appeared in the “Doll’s House” story arc of Sandman. It’s three years after the death of her infant son, who is now in reality — some reality, anyway — the new Lord of Dreams. She’s in a bad way, depressed and given to fits of violence, and hungry for revenge against her son’s killer. A police psychologist recommends drama therapy, and she links up with a theater company about to leave for Greece, where she was born, for a theater festival. (Lyta, be it known, is half human and half Fury, which probably accounts for some of her temper.) Events, however, are being manipulated by Cronus, who himself has come back for revenge, against Hermes and anyone else he can think of, and who hopes to free himself of his own fate and the Furies — remember, he killed his father, Uranus, and a patricide is the most damned of all. His plan is to do away with the Furies and take their place, and he intends to use Lyta to achieve his goal. Things don’t quite work out the way he planned.
The story is solidly grounded in the Greek myths, although Carey does take the time to refresh our memories on the Titans and Uranus’ fate. He builds a lot of depth into the mythological aspects — these are not Edith Hamilton’s Greek gods — which helps to support the characterizations of Lyta and the human contingent. Hermes is well cast and makes his own contribution to Cronus’ undoing — remember, Hermes is a Trickster, among his other attributes.
I’m often ambivalent about John Bolton’s graphic style, but in this case it works very well. The hyperrealism of his images adds to the surreality of Lyta’s experiences, and the way he manipulates focus adds a dreamlike quality to events — not inappropriate, all things considered. (We do meet the new Dream Lord, Oneiros, as it happens, who clinches Cronus’ downfall.)
The Furies turns out to be a worthy addition to the Sandman canon — I didn’t think I was going to like it all that much, but I did.