Recommended Reading: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill

Posted in Book Reviews, Bookish, Horror by

From the back:

Written by [Joe] Hill and featuring artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them… and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all…

I’ve never questioned whether or not graphic novels could be considered “real writing,” or anything silly like that (of course it’s real writing!), but if I had, Locke & Key definitely would have cemented for me the belief that it is.

I have a fairly small collection of comics and graphic novels, including Northanger Abbey, Adventure TIme, and Watchmen–a decent mix, though overall straying from the typical superheros. The closest I come to that is a Harley Quinn book and my Watchmen collection. However, I’d never looked at horror comics or graphic novels, and when I heard about Locke & Key while listening to the Nerdist podcast a few weeks ago, I immediately googled it and added it to my to-read list. Over the weekend when I had friends over, I of course used it as an excuse to find a new comic book store nearby, since we’ve moved away from my usual haunt. I ended the search with a pleasing stack of reading material to leave with and a hearty recommendation from the guy at the register confirming that Locke & Key was a good choice.

Boy, was he right.

For my first foray into horror graphic novels, it was a fantastic choice. The art is wonderfully creepy without being overbearing like a lot of horror movies can be in their use of gore. There were certain panels where I would look, shudder, then keep staring; I was sucked into how effective the art was in making it horror without making it gore. Gore bores me, honestly. I much prefer suspense, which this has plenty of.

As for the story itself, the concept is sad, tense, and a little bit heartwarming all in one. The entire plot of this volume kicks off on a murder that leaves one family member racked with guilt and all of them on edge even after the arrest. Despite the concept of the “creature” inhabiting Keyhouse, the opening murder and its consequences provide a real-life issue to the story that perhaps makes it even creepier than had the story been focused solely on the supernatural.

One thing I do wish I got more of from this volume was a sense of character. While I do understand the members of the Locke family and their motivations, I wish I’d gotten to know them even more, especially Kinsey. For me, it felt like there was a lot to know about oldest brother Tyler, but notably less about the middle sister, Kinsey, and youngest Bode. Still, it’s a gripping start this series, of which I’m already dying to read the next installment. With each piece of the overall mystery that came to light, I couldn’t help but ache for even more details.

September 18, 2013
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