This review also appears in my book blog: Books and Lesser Evils.
Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft is another example of why Joe Hill is carving a name for himself in the world of the macabre regardless of who his uber famous father is. Toss in the artwork of Gabriel Rodriguez and with Locke and Key you have an extremely entertaining and beautifully drawn graphic novel of darkness, murder, demons and despair.
Following a home invasion that ended in the brutal murder of their father and the rape of their mother; the Locke family leaves California and travels to live with their Uncle Duncan at Keyhouse in Massachusetts. On an island aptly named, Lovecraft. On Lovecraft the three kids, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode along with their mother hope to start their lives over. But the grief of losing their father and husband is too strong to get past. Though each tries in their own way.
Nina, drowning her pain and grief in alcohol. Tyler, the oldest son, working and pushing himself to not face his own guilt in his father’s bloody killing. Kinsey, the girl, who once before prided herself on her uniqueness, struggling to fit in. And Bode, the youngest whose exploration of Keyhouse unlocks hidden secrets and rooms.
But the Locke family is not out of danger yet, as the young killer of their father has escaped and is heading for them. And what of the hidden room and the dark and empty well inside of it. Or the voice that calls to the young child Bode from the bottom of the well. Or the door, the one door that only your spirit can go through. All this and more waits for them on Lovecraft island.
Locke and Key could have been told in any format and if readers miss this tale only because it is in comic book format then a little education in in order. Hell a lot of education is in order. Here are some titles to consider –
The Walking Dead
Thirty Days of Night
V For Vendetta
A History of Violence
all began as comic books or graphic novels. And these are just to name a few so if you are under the delusion that only Iron Man and Batman are comic book stories that made it into other mediums, well open your eyes because you are missing some of the best storytelling around.
Joe Hill is an accomplished novelist. Horns, A Heart-Shaped Box and the recent NOS4A2 show that he is quite adept at writing a story in the conventional written format. Why he chose the comic book for Locke & Key is his to tell, but thank god he did. Gabriel Rodriguez’s artwork brings the despair and pain of the Locke family to life. The combination of the two together is striking and telling. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned and like the best of the storytelling out there, you will re-open this book and go through it all again.
This is Volume 1 of the series and after picking this one up you will want Volume 2.
An excellent read and wonderful macabre storytelling.