Richard Matheson prefaces What Dreams May Come by explaining that he had performed extensive research on the subject of life after death, and although the novel is obviously a work of fiction, he believes that based on his research, that much of what he wrote about is accurate. In the novel, Chris, the main character, dies. After death he enters another state of being. This state is primarily a mental world, where the landscape and setting are largely formed by the minds of the people residing there. In the afterlife, people work on mental exercises that couldn't be accomplished during life. There are also many rules that the author painstakingly, often too much so, explains.
In the afterlife, Chris is able to see what is occurring with his adult children and his wife. His wife is in a terrible state, suffering through depression and eventually becoming suicidal. In the novel, suicide is the worst thing a person can do, and the repercussions to the person's soul are quite severe. Despite the rules against such things, Chris feels that he must intervene.
What Dreams May Come is at times fascinating. At other times the book drags. I appreciate the thought and research that Matheson has put into the subject, and it is evident in the tale. The writing is quite good. The novel isn't terribly long, and based on the content, it was wise on the author's part not to try to make it longer, as many other writers do. Although not great, this is a novel worth reading.
Carl Alves - author of Blood Street