Amazingly satisfying and MODERN, as far as fantasy goes. I always picture satisfying fantasy to be something with an air of dust and age to it, when men spoke fancifully, and narrated their stories thus. All ensuing attempts, at least for me, seem to fail because, stories like Dragonlance are weak imitations, right down to the Tolkein verbiage. Golden attempts none of that and seamlessly blends the world of myth and legend with our own, in regular commonplace English. Even his hero, Oliver, is a normal, albeit wealthy man, with insecurities, temptations, and weaknesses, and he reacts to his strange predicament of being thrust "beyond the Veil" in normal, understandable terms.
As Amanda says, one gets a sense of Stephen King, and it's not just the Maine backdrop to the beginning of the story. I think mostly it reminds me of the Tower, with worlds behind worlds and the allusions to corners being turned onto parallel dimensions where things could be slightly, or significantly, off-kilter.
I enjoyed the use of myths and legends from around the world beyond just the standard Western litany of Greek and Norse gods and heroes. Among the main characters are a Native American trickster, a Chinese dragon, a Japanese trickster/demon and Jack Frost, who's just
the winter man. Golden imbues each of these with strange, but culturally acceptable powers. At times, it seems Golden's research into these myths is just superficial, and they take on the most stereotypical elements of their complex histories, but the attempt is admirable. Certainly there's a wealth of material for him to draw on in the construction of the Two Kingdoms. What's kind of disappointing is the mix he chooses. I have my eyes out for recognizable deities and legends, and find them wanting. The less notable villains seem like hodgepodges of animal parts with no connection to real human legend at all, but his choice of main villain in the Sandman is sublime and well done. I have to admit that this construction of the legend is fascinating and frightening.
I feel three stars is appropriate, there's a wealth of potential that makes me excited, but execution-wise I expect better, but maybe I'm spoiled. I definitely am interested in seeing where this is going. Atlantis, the Mayans and greater legends await, or at least I hope.