I was going to keep going with the poetry, but I have a cold, and my head is too sore for that much thinking. So what should you read when you’re sick, you’re getting bloody tired of grad school and the horrid city you’re in, and you’re now woefully single without even a Book Cat to cuddle up with while waiting for Spartacus: Vengeance to start and soothe your aching heart?
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key series of comics/graphic novels (And don’t even start with me about the terminology. They’re released as single issues and then collected into volumes. So argue amongst yourselves.) I am admittedly rather late to the Locke & Key party; volume 4 is already out, and apparently, a TV series pilot has been made and inexplicably rejected (for shame, network executives!). Still, better late than never. Into the breach!
First, a brief synopsis: Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke are reeling from the violent murder of their father when their mother decides to seek a fresh start in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Keyhouse, the sprawling, labyrinthine Victorian house where the siblings’ father grew up, is not a regular house, though, and Bode soon discovers that its doors can take you to the most unexpected places. But the past is about to catch up with the Locke family, and they’ll soon discover that their father’s murderer isn’t the only monster to fear.
Damn! What is not to like about these books? Nothing, that’s what. Broad appeal, people. They hit all the markers. Complex, realistic, intriguing, identifiable characters. No one is a ‘type.’ A plot that is endlessly engrossing and mercilessly suspenseful – I lost so much sleep while devouring these books. And then, when I did sleep, I dreamed about them. Seriously.
Hill’s storytelling skills are masterful. He draws you in and keeps you on your toes, and if you let your guard down for a second, he gives you a light, chastising jab to the jaw. Yeah, don’t start thinking you know what’s going to happen. Cuz you don’t. The blend of fantasy and horror feels fresh and quite unlike anything I’ve read in a long while, and the key motif is so appealingly vintage. (I have always been obsessed with keys – who hasn’t? – and even found a shop online where you can buy beautiful replica keys from the comics!) Also, bonus smart aleck points: oooh, doors, oooh, liminality!
Of course, none of this would be quite as awesome without Rodriguez’s stunning artwork. Jaw-dropping. Gorgeous. Cool beans. I want to pry open his head (or unlock… ha! spoiler!) and get lost in the forest of his imagination. When I have bazillions of dollars I am going to hire him to design my mansion… an exact replica of Keyhouse!
Be warned: this book is not for kiddies. (Suck it, kiddies.) There’s some salty language (yay!), and super-scary images (duh, and also yay). Great Odin’s ravens, I love these books. Beware, though. You will get nothing done until you finish the first volume; nice people will try to talk to you, and you will glare at them with your Medusa stoneface until they scurry away, afraid for their safety. And then you’ll walk a thousand leagues (more or less) to your local comic book store to get the next volume, braving the harsh Canadian winter and weathering the dumbfounded stares of the exclusively male customers and staff, clutching the precious books to your chest like they’re a certain piece of trouble-making jewelry, only relaxing your death-grip when you’ve returned to your frigid and disturbingly monastic studio apartment.
Yeah. They’re good.
Rating: Five out of five freaky magical keys!!!