Volume two of House of Mystery, Love Stories For Dead People starts off with a bang with the backstory of the pirate, Ann Preston, aka Bloody Ann. The Cave of the Gilded Virgins is ripping yarn about piracy, love, betrayal and death, with a few bloodthirsty rhino people thrown in for luck.
Back in the present day, Harry the bartender has a plan to finally escape the house. He enlists Ann and Fig to join him in an attempt to navigate the labyrinth in the basement which he believes leads to an exit. Leaving The Poet and Cressida in charge they head down to face whatever unknown dangers lurk beneath the house.
There are a couple of lessons to be learned from this story. Lesson number one: when purchasing spells or magical items from a wizard make sure they are very specific about what those items actually do. Lesson number two: If when exploring a spooky basement that is the entrance to a labyrinth you come across a disembowelled baby minotaur who uses her dying breath to tell you to run, you run! Lesson three: bundt tins have more uses than you might expect.
This volume also tells some of Harry's back story and gives a little more information about why Fig ended up in the house. There are also more tales from the bar, from staff and customers alike as well as a brief appearance by a couple of characters who will be familiar to fans of the Sandman series.
Love stories For Dead People is more poetic than your average comic book, with plenty of philosophical pondering and some really evocative descriptions. I love all the little touches in the artwork that aren't important to the plot but add to the strange atmosphere (look out for the rat man). It has the same macabre humour I came to expect from the Sandman comics.
Love Stories For Dead People provokes as many new questions as it answers, so I will certainly be picking up the next volume of House of Mystery to find out what happens next.