82 of 96 people found the following review helpful
I'm harder to scare these days than when I was a kid and horror movies were still black and white and filled with trademark Hollywood monsters. Currently, I've been through a plethora of Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, and ghost movies and their spawn. It takes a lot to scare me these days.
Then Hollywood introduced me to FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN, and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. George C. Scott's THE CHANGELING totally creeped me out, and Steven Spielberg's POLTERGEIST taught me to fear my television. Then I watched adaptations of Thomas Harris's novels, RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and learned to fear serial killers that were really among us.
However, I have to admit that somewhere in there I became jaded. I started watching horror movies for special effects and the snappy one-liners that became so popular. I ended up laughing through most of them.
Like I said, I'm hard to scare. Of course, I can still scare myself pretty good. Let me curl up at night with a Stephen King book or one of Joseph Delaney's THE LAST APPRENTICE YA novels, and I can give myself a case of the willies. These books, thankfully, still deliver the sheer, enervating atmosphere necessary to amp up my adrenaline gland.
But I found a new fear-inducer in Joe Hill. I discovered him in HEART-SHAPED BOX and got totally weirded out listening to that novel on audiobook. Then I got my hands on the first issue of his comic book series, LOCKE & KEY.
Imagine a family that falls victim to what appears to be a deranged teenager looking for some payback. That's pretty horrific by today's standards because the news is full of lethal teens - and others. This could happen, so I wasn't immediately getting the spook vibe.
The story is harsh and emotional. I felt Ty, Kinsey, and Bodie's pain over losing their father to violence. The way that Joe cut the action between the past and present really upped the suspense and impending feeling of doom. Gabriel Rodriguez's art is loose and captivating, and he plays with angles that pulled me right into the frames and turned them into movies. I was THERE, inside the story on several occasions. And I wasn't comfortable being there. Especially in the scenes when Bodie was talking to the thing in the wellhouse!
As it turns out, though, the teen that planned the murder of Papa Locke wasn't entirely there out of vengeance. He had made a pact with the thing in the wellhouse, and that just spins the whole story on its ear.
After their father's murder, the kids end up at the Locke House, a place so riddled with mysteries that Joe says he's got 70 issues plotted out for those bewitched doors, nooks, and crannies already. Personally, I can't wait. I love the puzzles and the mysteries, as well as the fact that THINGS are lurking inside the house and waiting to spring out on unwary victims.
Joe and Gabriel have created a whole WORLD of spine-chilling entertainment to come. It's no surprise that Dimension Films has already snapped up the film rights to the property, or that IDW publishing had to reprint the issues several times. I expect they'll have to reprint the new hardcover graphic novel as well, but I didn't take any chances - I've got my copy already.
In the various issues, Joe shifts the point of view around from Ty to Bodie to Kinsey, and all of them achieve a distinct voice that bring a different flavor to the emerging story. When I read the graphic novel all at once, the voices didn't quite stand out as much as waiting a month between, but that's only because I was trying to get to the end of the story faster and faster. I'd read the first three issues, then couldn't get my hands on the last three, so I was desperate to know what happened next.
The suspense ratchets up like a whipsaw rollercoaster cresting the top of the final plunge leading to a white-knuckled grip (thank God the book is a hardcover or it wouldn't have survived the read!).
I couldn't stop reading, and now I can't wait for the next volume in the Locke family's adventures. The old house as a lot of life (and UNLIFE) still waiting to be discovered and feared.
Horror fans will love this book because it delivers every delicious thrill and chill a reader could want. And Gabriel's art is absolutely eye-popping, alternately beautiful and then gruesome. LOCKE & Key is a definite, pulses-pounding winner.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Hey, here's some trivia for ya....Did you know that Joe Hill's Dad is Stephen King? So no surprise that Hill is pumping out stories of the macabre, right? And he sure is doing it as well as his Dad (especially lately) with Locke & Key.
I was first attracted to Locke & Key when I was reading a February 2011 New York Post article about comics and graphic novels that have been or will be turned into movies or TV series. Locke & Key will be one of the latter with a potential pilot episode airing as soon as the end of this year on FOX. So I thought that I'd get "the real story" from the actual author prior its release as a TV series. And so far, after Book 1, I am not disappointed. (EDIT: 7/2011 - Fox has scratched the Locke & Key pilot - see link in the comment section of this review.)
Like father, like son, Locke & Key is violent at times, bloody at times, scary at times, disturbing at times, but most importantly it is very well written. The Locke's are a seemingly normal young family in California. The father is a principal of a local school. So when the Locke's are rocked by the father's murder by a crazed student, their world turns upside-down, and they are invited to come live out east in a big old spooky mansion in, where else but..."Lovecraft", MA. And you can bet your bottom dollar that in a mansion in a New England town called Lovecraft created by the spawn of Stephen King...thar will be ghosts!
While well written, there are some recycled themes and predictable moments. But mostly Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft is an excellent read for fans of the Fantasy or Horror genres. I'm hooked and looking forward to digging into Locke & Key Volume 2: Head Games and Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows with Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom due to be released this year.
I'm also really looking forward to the TV series. It seems like it has a promising Supernaturalish chance of succeeding with War of the Worlds/Sarah Connor Chronicles writer Josh Friedman joining on to help Hill get it "out the door" and onto TV.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
When I saw the title of this volume, "Welcome to Lovecraft," I had to give it a shot. The fact that it was written by Joe Hill was a bonus, as was the awesome sounding concept of the house with mysterious doors (which sounded--and looked--a lot like the House of Mystery, one of my current favorites). I thought it would be creepy and interesting and fun. And good.
Well, it didn't disappoint. However, it was very dark. Way more dark than I expected (yes, even with the word "Lovecraft" in the title, Sam). It was violent, creepy, shocking, horrifying...and very good.
The story starts with the brutal murder of a high school guidance counselor, which we see in flashbacks throughout the first chapter and the entire volume. After his death, his family moves across the country to the town of Lovecraft, New England, to live in his childhood home Keyhouse, a mysterious mansion where the doors can open to much more than just the next room--if you have the key. Each of the three children deal with their father's death and their new life in a new town differently (Bode, the youngest, finds he enjoys becoming a ghost and chatting with his echo in the old well). Their mother also has some difficulties adjusting. Mixed in with that are flashbacks to their old life and what led up to the murder...and then their past catches up with them.
The opening chapter is incredibly violent, bloody, and intense, and although the violence is turned down a notch after that, it didn't end, even when I thought it was over. It was pretty unrelenting throughout. There just kept being more murder, or more views of the earlier murder, or other violent acts, and then more murder. And when it wasn't violent, it could be pretty creepy or otherwise dark. This isn't meant to urge anyone not to read this, it's simply a warning about how dark it is. I would have liked to have had a chance to prepare myself, so I'm trying to give you that chance.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2011
I rarely take the time to write reviews when I agree with the majority of opinions that have already been shared. However, in this instance I feel compelled to add to the praise that has already been heaped upon this book.
I've been reading comics for about 35 years and it's not often that a book will exceed my expectations to this degree. This is my first exposure to Joe Hill and upon finishing this trade paperback I was immediately perusing Amazon to find his other work. I know that he has an impressive pedigree, but he is a brilliant writer whose skills transferred perfectly to the medium of comics.
I agree with some of the other reviews that it's a very dark book, but it's so well crafted that you have to appreciate what Hill has developed in this story. The pacing is perfect and the dialogue feels natural. He quickly fleshes out the characters and makes it easy for you to empathize with each of them. His "villain" in the opening arc is creepy and is made even more so by the fact that he feels completely real and believable.
I've never seen any other work by artist Gabriel Rodriguez, but this guy is a superstar in his own right. He deserves equal credit for the creation of this brilliant piece of comic book horror/suspense.
I finished the first trade paperback last night right before I went to sleep, and I'm picking up the second one today. Without a doubt, Locke & Key deserves every accolade it has received.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
For a while now people have been recommending Joe Hill's writing to me as a possible foray into the "horror" genre (which I don't often read). On a whim, I was in the graphic novel section and I stumbled across Locke and Key which is written by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez. It's been a bit since I'd read a new graphic novel, so I picked it up and started thumbing. Soon thereafter I had the book and home and was thoroughly engrossed in reading.
First let me say that even though this is a "comic book"...a "cartoon"...it is definitely NOT FOR KIDS. There is some strong language (teetering between PG-13 and R rating) and smatterings of heavy violence. So don't leave this lying around for your kids to accidentally stumble across.
From a high level, elements of the story were fairly corny and predictable. The family's last name is "Locke" and they move to a place called "Keyhouse" with mystical keys and doors. The town/island they move to is named Lovecraft (thus implying plenty of creepy craziness). The psychopathic murderer's backstory shows a well-meaning kid driven to demented violence because of physical and emotional abuse from his drug addicted parents. None of this was particularly compelling.
Where the story got interesting for me was both in terms of the psychological character development of the kids as well, the intriguing potential of the mysterious keys, and the strange shadow plot of the "echo" character who is communicating both with the murderer and with the youngest child in the family.
While a lot of the actions and behaviors of the kids were expected, I really liked the way the story, dialog and art interacted to really help me see and feel what these kids were going through. I thought that the daughter's (Kinsey) transition from rebel to ~semi-preppy was interesting and felt justified in a sense to maybe clean up and live up to her father's expectations. I enjoyed the older son's (Tyler) struggle with guilt (for previous bad relationship with his father...as well as a comment from the murder) and his responsibility to now be the "man of the house." I had fun with the younger son (Bode), but his behavior was a little more difficult for me to swallow. He seemed a little too carefree still considering what had just happened. Still, it could be realistic given that he's younger and his attention span allows him to escape more easily into fun and play but then crash back at times when he dwells on the reality.
One disconnect I did feel with regards to the family was the fact that they didn't discuss the idea of going into therapy to try and deal with their issues. Granted, that may not be something every family might consider at a time like this, especially when all four of the survivors are in shock. But this particular family has a close relationship with psychology and therapy...the father was a counselor. It just felt strange that they didn't go in for some family therapy sometime. Admittedly that likely would have pulled the story in a strange direction...but I would have liked to see someone pressuring them perhaps and them resisting.
The concept of Keyhouse and these magical keys is compelling. In this book we generally only get to see the actions of one key...a key that opens a door which, when you walk through it, separates your spirit from your body and allows you to flit around in ghost form. Kind of interesting. But then later in the book we learn about other keys and find that a big motivation is the "Anywhere Key" that lets you use it on any door and makes that door become a portal to anywhere you want to go. The potential for cool keys is huge but I worry that subsequent books will focus less on the development of other cool keys and keep them (as in this book) as a minor player that's mostly for fun but with the main focus being to find and hold the Anywhere Key.
Related to the finding of the Anywhere Key is the overarching meta-plot that takes this book and makes it a long lasting series. In this book the main plot involves the murder of the father and trying to stay safe as the murderer hunts down the rest of the family. Behind this main plot we have a larger plot that is given to us only in mysterious bits and pieces. There is some mystical being/spirit/demon (?) behind the scenes pulling various strings to try and motivate characters to do different things. The exact motivations and history of this character are unclear but it is clear that he/she/it is imprisoned somehow and looks to escape and (presumably) exact some sort of revenge or power struggle. Even at the end of this book, the exact nature of the meta-plot is unclear and it's even given new twists at the end to make it even more open to strange speculation. I must say I am very curious as to how this plays out.
Even as an adult, I have to admit that the violence was over the top for me. The art style is smooth and cartoony, but realistic enough to be disturbing (i.e. - this isn't "Looney Toons" style violence). The book starts out with a flashback to the grizzly murder of the patriarch of the Locke family. His wife and children are present and have to flee the murderer who is quickly brought down and imprisoned. The scene is creepy and suspenseful and includes a brutal display of the husband/father being shot. As gruesome as the sight is, it was over quickly enough that I pushed through and was pleased to find that I read on and on without additional scenes of violence. However as the book approached its climax, it was apparent that something bad was about to happen and the violence at the end of the book was even more gruesome and drawn out than the initial killing.
I really enjoyed the nature of the story and the tone and feel of the artwork with the exception of what I felt to be excessively graphic depictions of violence. Even though I am very interested in finding out how the overall story plays out and I am very curious to see what sort of cool and imaginative keys turn up in Keyhouse, I am unsure whether or not I will actually read the rest of the books. I thumbed the first bit of volume 2 and didn't find comparable violence, but I suspect it's there and just as graphic (or potentially more so...as often these things push the limit as they go on). I personally felt like the actual display of the violence was taken to an unnecessary extreme. I felt like the same tension, suspense and fear could have happened with the violence being 90% "off-page" and left to the reader's imagination instead of being glorified in large full-color illustrations. This is in no means a criticism of the artist's talent...it's more a criticism of the willful choice to showcase the violence in this way. I've read other comics and graphic novels with violence handled "off-page" and found them much more enjoyable since I didn't have to cringe in disgust.
So yeah, I really enjoyed the storytelling (and will likely seek out some of Joe Hill's non-graphic-novel writing) but the graphic violence was a bit too over the top for me. Even though I would love to know what happens next, I will probably go for the less artistic method of "reading" the story by seeking out wikipedia summaries. Overall an enjoyable read but pulled down in enjoyment by the need to look away rather than fully engross. While I would love to rate this higher, I just personally can't do it. If you don't mind graphic depictions of violence, you'll likely enjoy this...but for me, it's too much.
2.5 out of 5 stars
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2011
I will review all three volumes as a group here, as I would guess most people who may consider this series would go to Volume One first. I will avoid Spoilers.
The hardcovers and beautiful, with glossy graphics on a matt background. Volume 3 had a ribbon. (some people say their 1 and 2 did as well). Upon opening the first volume, I paused to examine the beautiful illustrations inside the covers and on the pages leading into the story. The author dedicates the book to his mother. I had never heard of Joe Hill before, but I did know of only one person named Tabitha King, so guessed who he was, 'Hill' or no 'Hill'. No matter, I can understand why he started out with a nom de plume.
BTW, some character names interest me in this book. The coach (vol 2) is Elsie Whedon. One of Rendell's old schoolmates (vol 2) was Lucas Caravaggio, and the admissions director (vol 3) is Calliope Ridgeway. Some of these may have meaning to the story, maybe some just to the author. For instance, I could see how Calliope could be seen as a muse to her drama teacher husband.
Hill excells in many areas. His characters are real, well rounded, and sympathetic. The story line is suspenseful, and as certain mysteries get cleared up, new information creates new questions for the reader (and the characters) to ponder. This series is just plain creepy - in a good way. He also drops in ...idk...language hints? to the text, relating to the key/theme at hand. Word jokes, puns. The Joe Ridgeway story, which opens vol. 2, bounces back and forth in time. The opening and the ending `bookend' the story nicely, and Hill manages to put a spin on the end which lightens some of the sadness therein.
Gabriel Rodriguez contributes wonderful artwork. I admit that I can have a hard time enjoying even a well written series if I hate the artwork (some arcs of Sandman come to mind). This series has the best of both worlds! The lines are clean, the facial expressions clear, and the colors are appealing yet somber in tone, as suits the series. Violence is not portrayed in too graphic a manner. Some is not shown at all. Rodriguez also uses a technique for which I do not know the name, where he repeats a setting several times with just necessary changes. Look at the preview pages for Vol. 3, Crown of Shadows, to see this technique. I feel as though this grounds parts of the story better than if he kept changing perspective. It is also almost cinematic. Hill also injects a good does of humor into the story (which is necessary, I think, to keep it from becoming oppressive), which Rodriguez translates nicely. I really liked the bit in vol. 3 where Bode tells his mother how to cook the alfredo sauce. The `nameless technique' works nicely there.
Volume 1 is taken up with the Locke family tragedy and their subsequent move to the family home in Lovecraft. Volumes 2 and 3 move briskly along, introducing many new and interesting characters and situations, which keeps the story fresh. After reading Vol. 1, I took out Heart Shaped Box, Hill's first novel, from the library and read it in two nights. (I could not wait for an Amazon delivery!) Hill's work is gripping and intense and I plan to read more of it!
Highly recommended series!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2008
I knew nothing of this book when I got it. In fact, I erroneously believed it to be a graphic adaptation of some of H.P. Lovecraft's stories. I was wrong, but the impulse buy paid off because this is some of the richest narrative and illustration you will find in any graphic novel of the horror genre.
I won't go into the storyline, because Mel Odom covers that pretty well in his review. What I will say is that there is tremendous depth in the characters, and the way Joe Hill uses the flashbacks to gradually reveal the plot's details rather than follow a linear progression makes this even more readable than it is. I suppose it could be conceived by some as a little jarring the way Hill bounces back and forth between past and present, but as long as you pay attention, I feel it only adds to the uniqueness of the tale.
I was completely pulled in from the first few pages thanks to Gabriel Rodriguez's stunning visuals and Hill's compelling story. I read it once...then again and once again the day I got it, finding something I missed each time. There is so much subtlety in the way the tale unravels, and you just know that Hill has much more of Lovecraft and the Locke family yet to reveal when the final page is turned.
I say this story has a little bit of everything because it does: the sociopathic killer who murders his victims without emotion, just staying on task and mission to get what he's after. The ghost/phantasm theme involving the books narrator, the elementary school-aged Bode. The monster living at the bottom of the well and the way she manipulates Bode and the killer Sam to further her own secret ends.
I've read that Dimension Films has already secured the rights to the Locke & Key franchise, and I'm looking forward to seeing this chilling tale re-told on the big screen.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
In addition to being a bestselling novelist and a noted award-winning short story writer, Joe Hill also happens to be the son of novelist Stephen King. I lead with that and I feel guilty about it at the same time. Hill created his own name in order to create his own identity, and as soon as we found out, we start telling each other. As I said, I feel guilty, but I also know that letting the cat out of the bag, again, will draw more people to this review and hopefully pump up Hill's sales. He deserves to be read. He has an intriguing mind and a unique way of looking at the dark corners in life.
Despite his paternity, Hill has crafted an existence for himself that's just starting to take off. His novel, HEART-SHAPED BOX leapt onto bestseller lists and latched hold of horror fans' psyches in wild, delicious ways. His collection of short stories, 20th CENTURY GHOSTS, has won the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the International Horror Guild Award.
Now, along with artist Gabriel Rodriguez, Hill has staked out the comics medium with a new series called LOCKE & KEY. The launch is a page-turning suspense story full of surprises. According to information that's been released by IDW Publishing, this is going to be at least a six-issue monthly series. Hill has plans for at 68 issues of Keyhouse.
I really like the idea behind the house and the series. It focuses on kids, and the house has doors they can pass through that will change them. The power of the doors can change their age, their race, and their sex, and has a tendency to push people toward the evil we all carry around inside us.
The first issue is stunning. When I saw the blood-red cover with the old key so prominent, I didn't at first see the house in the background. Then when I saw the house I couldn't get it out of my mind. I just sat there for a moment, frozen, thinking about all the possibilities of that key and that house and all those doors. I think that's what still consumes me about the story.
The story begins quietly, almost innocently, but it quickly turns mean and hard-edged, which is one of the qualities of Hill's writing. The story picks up with Sam Lesser and Al Grubb, two high school students that were counseled by Tyler Locke's father, turning up at the Locke house. A single page of simple conversation with Mrs. Locke turns chilling when we see the weapons they're packing.
On the next page, we get a full-page shot of a man and a woman lying dead in the back of a pickup truck. A bloody tarp barely covers them.
Hill plays with time in this first comic. He leaves us hanging, wanting desperately to turn the pages, but afraid of what we're going to see at the same time. In four quick panels, we're introduced to Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke, who are evidently going to be our main characters throughout the comics.
Tyler is the brooding high school teen who resents his dad's manipulation to get them out to help him paint the summerhouse. Kinsey is a pre-teen girl who seems to be the responsible one. Bode is the ever-curious and ever-daring kid who's always getting into trouble and exploring. Rodriguez's art is fantastic and really brings the characters and the environment around them to life while looking simple at the same time.
The panel of Mr. Locke coming home and surprising the teen killers is chilling. Then Hill cuts away to the funeral and we don't know who's dead. Afterwards, Tyler sits through unbearable visits from friends who are so disconnected from reality I wanted to scream at them. One guy can only talk about himself. Another can only talk about how famous Tyler is going to be. Writing about real people is one of Hill's gifts. Apparently illustrating them is one of Rodriguez's.
While sitting with his Uncle Duncan, Tyler remembers how his father planned for them to go live at Keyhouse if anything ever happened to him. Hill's script is an economy of language. Every panel moves the story along and provides information as well as emotion. Rodriguez makes them all beautiful to look at.
Then the story plunges back to the day of the murders, when the teen killers were inside the Locke summer home. The next few pages are full of tension, suspense, and thrill-a-second pacing that had me flipping pages like a madman. The story turns chilling, then cuts off again, leaving me hanging once more. You know that Tyler survives, but you don't know if anyone else does.
The next sequence introduces Keyhouse, and the layout of the grounds, the fact that it's on a peninsula cut off from civilization, is at once intriguing. I know that the distance away from a populated area is going to be trouble.
Once the exploration of the house begins, which I was dying to see, Hill moves us back to the past again. The graphic panels Rodriguez presents had me once more hanging on as what happened that day of the killings is finally played out. It's brutal and vicious, but that's the only way it could have happened.
The true weirdness descends on the story in the next few pages. Bode is off exploring the weird house all on his own when he has an out-of-body-experience. And we learn that Sam Lesser, one of the teen killers, is still alive in juvenile lockup. Not only that, but he's talking to a mysterious entity he can see in a sink full of water.
I'm totally jacked about this series. I think it's going to be great. I can't believe Hill decided to do it as a comic book instead of a novel, but in an interview I read he said he'd just always envisioned it as a comic book.
I love Rodriguez's art, so that's a bonus in addition to a great, macabre story with plenty of mystery and suspense. But the waiting over the next five months is going to test me to my limits. I expect I'm going to be daydreaming - or having nightmares - about Keyhouse and what's really going on for some time now. If you're a comics fan or a horror fan or a Joe Hill fan, you gotta check this one out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2012
I enjoyed reading this graphic novel on the kindle will look for word to reading the rest in this series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2012
This is an excellent version of the print copy. The previous review from the person that gave it one star just shows they have no idea what they are talking about. On a kindle fire it looks fantastic. On a smaller screen it might be a bit troublesome but they still dont look bad but just smaller. The pictures are crisp and the words clear. I highly recommend this digital version for the price AND the quality! I cant wait for more IDW trades to become available on kindle fire. This book fantastic!