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Joe Hill

Basketful of Heads

Joe Hill is having a moment. With his Locke & Key series now on Netflix, and his novels and short-story collections in high demand, DC has given him a prestige project, his own label- Hill House Comics. While not all of the graphic novels under this label will be penned by him, this first story is.

Set in September 1983, on Brody Island in Maine, the story establishes an 80s horror flick vibe. June is visiting her boyfriend Liam who is wrapping up his summer job as a deputy before going back to college in the fall. But a prison break (with a homage to Hill’s father Stephen King) puts their reunion in jeopardy. The two head to the police chief’s palatial estate during a growing storm and are amazed by the chief’s Viking artifacts collection. A battle-ax comes in very handy when the convicts land on their doorstep…

There are some twists and turns as to who the convicts are and who they are connected to on the island. As June fights for her life, grabbing the first weapon in sight, the ax’s power manifests in that the decapitated head is still alive and can continue talking. But heads begin to roll (!!) as June tries to find Liam and has to fight off several more criminals. Many secrets of corruption on the island are revealed by these talking heads. A final show-down discloses some heartbreaking truths and June obtains justice for a young woman who had been used and abused that summer.

Artists Leomacs and Riccardo La Bella really captured the era and northeast region well. There were crude jokes with some characters getting an almost Mad magazine type of caricature treatment, especially three times when a character is drawn with two heads as they are reacting to news. I loved the chapter breaks, as June’s basket fills and how the chapter numbers are symbolized. These sight gags, plus others, matched the tone of the narrative and made me laugh.

I enjoyed the dark humor as the horror-aspect of it all was played fast and loose. Thanks to NetGalley for this advance copy, for with this graphic novel as the first in the collection, I am looking forward to the others coming out in the months ahead. Joe Hill, both in graphic novels and books, is now definitely a favored author of mine.

-Nancy

Locke & Key: Season One

Locke & Key is one of my favorite graphic novel series, for as I said, “Locke & Key is truly one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, hands down.  It just dominates. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are superb storytellers, and this first novel makes me anxious to read the rest of the horror series”. So I was so excited to learn that it would be turned into a television series. A pilot had originally been shot for the Fox network in 2011 but they never picked it up, then Hulu had the rights but ultimately passed on turning it into a series, and finally, Netflix obtained the rights and the series debuted this February. As with many Netflix series, all ten episodes dropped at once, but I’m a busy mom who works full time, and it took me two months to finish all the episodes.

The story begins in California when a disgruntled student kills Rendell Locke,  and his grieving family heads back to Massachusetts to the Locke family estate. Nina, a recovering alcoholic is hanging onto her sobriety for dear life, while trying to help her three children adjust to their new home and reality. Tyler and Kinsey are in high school, while the youngest Bode is still in grade school. While out exploring the grounds, Bode finds a supernatural woman hiding in the well, and she convinces him to release her and help her find magical keys that are hidden around the estate. But she is malevolent, and we soon discover she was behind the killing of Rendell. He had been hiding secrets from his youth, as he too, knew of the key’s powers and how they could be twisted for evil. Now, this new generation of Lockes is battling for their lives, and pull some other people from the community into the mess.

Casting is key in any series, and I feel they really hit it out of the park. I loved all thee of the Locke children with the youngest really authentically capturing the wide-eyed innocence of Bode. The older two made the same short-sighted mistakes as they did in the graphic novel, with Tyler doing his best to be the level headed one and Kinsey’s lack of fear being a problem. The series eliminated a character who raped the Lockes’ mother and helped killed the Locke father, so Nina’s back story wasn’t as tragic and her character was allowed more growth.

I was very pleased with the series- it was a strong adaptation of the source material, especially as the pilot episode was co-written by author Joe Hill. The graphic novel was definitely in the horror genre with fantasy elements, but I’d say the series did a 180° with it skewing more towards fantasy with a few horror elements. This worked well, as some extremely dark issues were eliminated, which opened the narrative up to more ages, although it was still for a fairly mature audience.

While the series faithfully replicated much of the plot from the six-book series, many threads were left unexplored as to give the tv series room for growth if it was picked up for a second season- and it was! There were some fun reveals in the last few minutes that will lead to the Locke family facing more adversity, as there are two new demonic foes who are masquerading as friends. I look forward to more adventures with the Lockes!

-Nancy

Locke & Key: Heaven and Earth

As an extreme fan of Locke & Key, I was thrilled to see a book of collected stories set in the world of Keyhouse. Unfortunately, this book depends on your knowledge of the six-book series to understand the power of the keys that play a significant role in the stories. As two of the three stories are prequels, you are meeting family ancestors to the Locke children, and you will see some uncanny resemblances between generations.

Open The Moon

While this story could be a stand-alone, this story is better understood if you have read the issue Small World, as this has the family found in that story. We meet Chamberlin Locke and his wife Fiona and their four children. This story centers on their sickly son Ian, who is prone to convulsions, who can’t be cured by the magical mending cabinet in their home. Ian, his father and family friend Harland board a special hot air balloon to take them to the other side of the moon. This beautiful but melancholy story reunites loved ones, and Ian’s parents make a heart-rending sacrifice for Ian.

Picture taken from Deviant Art (artist & colorist credit on picture)

Grindhouse

This crime-noir story is set in the 1930’s and features some French-Canadian criminals that get in over their heads at the Keyhouse. Sisters Mary and Jean from the previous story are all grown up when the gangsters burst into their home and threaten them. Bombshell Mary is calm, even when her little boys are in danger and the women are forced upstairs to be assaulted. Luckily these two women know how to utilize the keys of the house to their advantage, and the crime spree ends in a shocking manner. This story is graphic and meant for mature audiences only.

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In The Can

We are reunited with the three Locke siblings from the original series in this short. Spanning only a few pages, this story takes place in what I assume would be Volume 4 when they are searching for additional keys in the house and grounds. Bode, the youngest, discovers a magical outhouse in the woods. Each time he opens the door different creatures greet him. In-jokes abound in this story, so be on the lookout for clues in the first few panels that will explain what Bode sees. That some of these creatures can be found in other IDW publications comes as no surprise.

The concluding pages in the book are a photo gallery of the Massachusetts region that the fictional town of Lovecraft is based off and the author and illustrator mugging for the camera. Then we are given three drawn portraits of Bode, Kinsey and Tyler with Locke & Key mythology behind them.

This hardback book is a treat for already established Locke & Key fans and should not be missed if you miss the series and are waiting on the Hulu series to start filming (edit- Netflix picked up the series to film when Hulu passed on it).

-Nancy

Road Rage

Lately I have been on a Stephen King and Joe Hill kick, and Goodreads noticed. Recently I read The Cape and and on the “readers also enjoyed” sidebar Road Rage was recommended.  I was able to track down a copy and was pleased to see that the book included two short stories- the first written by the father and son duo of King and Hill, but also included an adaptation of the classic story Duel by Richard Matheson.

Throttle: Written by Stephen King and Joe Hill, Adapted by Chris Ryall, Art by Nelson Daniel

With an introduction by Stephen King, the reader is given a homage to Richard Matheson, for this first story was originally included in He is Legend, a book collection of Matheson-inspired stories. King gives Matheson partial credit for shaping him into the writer he is today.

We are introduced to a group of ten bikers, that have a Sons of Anarchy vibe, although they are called The Tribe. The three main characters are leader Vinny, Lemmy, and Vinny’s son Race, with the other bikers getting less face time. At a truck stop they are discussing a drug deal gone wrong, that resulted in a death, and their plans to try to recoup their losses. The leaders speculate that one of the truckers might have overheard their conversation , but figures “No one with any sense would want to get involved in their shitpull”. They were wrong. Out on the road the trucker comes after them, and blood and mayhem endue. You will just have to read the story to find out the trucker’s motives, and the resulting causality count.

The story is illustrated by Nelson Daniel who did the art in The Cape, also written by Hill. I enjoy his work, and liked his computer generated dot matrix that he uses for shading. He was able to make each biker unique looking, and had some great layout designs in his panels.

Duel: Written by Richard Matheson, Adapted by Chris Ryall, Art by Rafa Garres

This story included a second introduction, this time by Joe Hill, and he recounts some fond childhood memories of road trips with his father. As a child he had been fascinated with the movie Duel, directed by Steven Spielberg, and he and his father had fun in the car imagining what they would do under the same circumstances.

The premise is simple, a traveling salesperson is on a deadline, and wants to pass a trucker on a desert stretch of highway. He does so, but the trucker is incensed and starts to play cat and mouse games with the hapless driver. The driver pulls over at a truckstop, knowing he will now be late for the meeting, but as he fears for his safety, he wants to let the menacing trucker go by. Unfortunately for him the trucker also stops as to continue their driving duel. To find out who wins the duel you must read this book and/or watch the movie! In fact, the movie is my Friday night plans, as I was too scared by it in my younger years to watch it to completion.

The art is reminiscent of the famous painting The Scream by artist Edvard Munch, with the swirling lines and emotion of fear coming through the work. Colored with a muddy palette the browns, yellows and oranges aptly depict the barren landscape. At first I was not a fan of the illustrations, and was turned off by the impreciseness of how the driver looked. But his seemingly melted face conveyed his terror as his day went to hell in a blink of an eye.

I would definitely give this book a recommendation, but it will come as no surprise to King and Hill fans, the book is for mature audiences as it has quite a bit of violence with some graphic illustrations.

-Nancy

A variant title page showing King & Hill!

 

Hype or Like Friday: I’m A Scaredy-Cat…

It’s Friday the 13th today! And what better way to celebrate than with this writing prompt- Hype or Like Friday: I’m A Scaredy-Cat… list the top 13 books and films that scare you the most! You will quickly see I like my horror stories short and scary. I am a big fan of Stephen King, but typically only of his shorter work.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by various authors

Impressive collection of horror/fantasy/paranormal short stories that were all inspired by old movies or books. The inspiration of each story is listed at the end of each story, but the fun is in guessing before you know for sure.

 

Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King

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King became too wordy for me a long time ago, so I now stick to his short stories for I feel he writes them very well. I liked how not all of them had horror or a supernatural element to them, but they all brought the characters to life. Some authors write a whole book and you still don’t have a fully fleshed out character, so I have always felt short story writers who can pull you in quickly are the best authors.  My favorites were Everything’s Eventual (listened to this on audio-Justin Long nailed it), Riding the Bullet and The Road Virus Heads North.

 

Poe: Stories and Poems by Edgar Allen Poe, adapted by Gareth Hinds


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When I wrote my discussion post on whether classic stories should be adapted into graphic novels, I deliberately left stories about Poe off. I love many of the macabre poems and short stories he wrote, and I had heard that this adaptation would be out soon. The illustrations here are evocative, and I will be reviewing this particular book in a few weeks. (Edit- here it is!)

 

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Four very dark short stories with Big Driver and A Fair Marriage being my favorites. This was the book that truly gave me the most chills, as they were very realistic and grim.

 

Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez

One of the best graphic novel series I have ever read, Locke & Key starts with a family tragedy as the Locke family is terrorized by two students who have an ax to grind with the father, Rendell, who is a high school guidance counselor.  After the father’s murder, the shattered family leaves California and heads to Massachusetts to start over at the Locke family estate, where Rendell’s younger brother Duncan provides them sanctuary. But alas, more evil awaits them there. This supernatural thriller set in a small coastal town is a winner and is being developed for a series on Hulu.

 

Image result for night shift king

These early stories of King stories grab your attention, and wonderfully describe the characters and locale in just a few pages. Favorites were Jerusalem’s Lot, Strawberry Spring, Children of the Corn, and I Am the Doorway. That many of these short stories were adapted into movies say a lot about the strength of his writing.

 

As for the movies…

Alien– There is no place to escape in space! That alien is so freakin’ creepy.

The Ring– The urban legends are true! Don’t watch the video!

The Blair Witch Project– The first of the “lost footage” movies that was perfectly done and set the stage for a new genre.

Poltergeist– I watched this as a child and it freaked me out. Children in danger, killer clown toy, and a house built on a graveyard- this had everything to scare me!

Carrie– Religious fanaticism, telekinesis and mayhem at the prom!

The Silence of the Lambs– Cannibalism and mind games at their finest.

Arachnophobia– Spiders…nuff’ said.

Give these stories and movies a chance, and you’ll be sure to have a frightfully good time!

-Nancy

The Cape

The Cape came recommended to me by Graham Crackers staff on several occasions. I want to know- what about me makes them think that I would like this incredibly dark story with an anti-hero who is so very twisted? But they were right…I really liked it.

The story is based off a short story written by Joe Hill in his horror anthology 20th Century Ghosts. I haven’t read it yet, although it is on reserve at my library so I can end up comparing the two. I am shocked I haven’t read this collection, as horror short stories are a favorite of mine. This review will actually be covering two stories, the original The Cape, and the prequel The Cape: 1969.

The Cape– Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella, Zach Howard & Nelson Daniel

The story begins with two brothers playing superheros together. The older brother Nick plays The Streak, while younger brother Eric wears a cape and is named Red Bolt. While climbing a tree Eric falls onto a tree branch that pierces his head. Fast forward to the teen years and Eric is  slacker who inexplicably gains a beautiful and tolerant girlfriend Angie. After numerous surgeries, he is plagued by blinding headaches that he claims prevent him from attending college or gaining meaningful employment. A few more years go by, and Angie has become a nurse and Eric’s brother Nick is attending Harvard Medical. Filled with jealousy and resentment, the relationship ends, with Eric moving back to his widowed mother’s house.

In his childhood home he rediscovers the cape he had worn as a child that he thought his mother had thrown out after his accident. Putting it on for nostalgia’s sake, he is shocked to realize he can fly. He visits his ex-girlfriend Angie to show her what he can do, and this is where the story goes sideways. O.M.G.- what he does next! I will not spoil it, for you need to experience it yourself.

The narrative continues with Nick and their mother getting pulled in. There are some flashbacks, showing the boys with their mother, which does not explain the rage that Eric has inside him. He had a loving mother, a big brother that teased him but also protected him, and a supportive girlfriend. What shaped him into the monster that he became? A final showdown between the brothers occurs at the end, and a bit of dialogue found at the beginning is repeated at the end, this time with a different significance.

The artwork is a perfect match for the ominous story. A subdued color palette represents Eric’s current darkness, while a lighter more colorful palette show his happier flashbacks. The art has a gritty realism to it, with an interesting layout of panels. I definitely was reminded of the Locke & Key series that Hill also penned, although the artists are different.  For me, the only drawback of this story was how Eric so quickly became evil. I wish there had been more character development in his story arc to explain his choices. Perhaps after reading the short story this graphic novel is based on, it will add more depth, and I will understand how Eric became so depraved.

The Cape: 1969– Joe Hill, Jason Ciaramella & Nelson Daniel  *This story was written by Jason Ciaramella, but based off Joe Hill’s earlier story and included his input.

This second story was an interesting prequel. We are transported back to the Vietnam War to explain how Eric’s cape came to have powers. First we meet Eric and Nick as even younger children with their mother reading their father’s letters from Vietnam. Their father Cory is a captain and is a medevac helicopter pilot. We learn he is MIA after his helicopter crashes in the jungle.

We are shown how Cory makes it out of the crash alive, but is quickly captured by the Viet Cong. Forced into a cage, he is later joined by a tattooed witch tribesman that the soldiers found living in the jungle.  The two men are pitted against one another by the cruel captors, with the intent for only one to survive. Cory is shocked when the mystical man begins to levitate, and despite the other man not seeming to be evil, Cory kills him so he can survive the contest. Before the tribesman dies, he touches Cory’s army patches on his shirt, and imparts his power to him. This begs the question- what’s the story behind the magical man? Unfortunately, we never learn more.

With this new found power Cory is able to escape his captors, but wants revenge. He comes back determined to kill all the men in the Viet Cong encampment. Instead of using his powers to truly leave and return to his family, Cory is determined to inflict as much pain on others as he can, and to no one’s surprise, it proves to be his downfall. Later another soldier finds some remains of Cory that includes the patch that is mailed back to his wife. She sews it on Eric’s cape to remember his father, not knowing that is is infused with power and rage.

The art is again excellent and very evocative of the era. Despite much of the story taking place in the jungle, little to no green is used. Instead, the camp is a dull brown, which I think embodies the loss of hope. Oranges and reds are used liberally in the Vietnam narrative, with the colors symbolizing to me the phrase “war is hell”. The colors definitely influenced my interpretation of the story, which was melancholy and grim. You knew as a prequel this story would not end well, and it did not disappoint on that regard.

Both stories were excellent but had plot holes that begged for more backstory. Looked at as a whole, I liked them, but do not go in expecting the stories to truly make sense if you start thinking too deeply about them. The violence is extreme, so consider that if you want to read the two stories. However, I would definitely recommend to mature readers who like their stories dark.

-Nancy

Locke & Key: Small World

Usually, I only review graphic novels vs single issues, but this is Locke & Key, I obviously needed to make an exception. Small World is a one-shot, but the creators plan a few more of these type of stories, covering some of the history prior to the original series that will be under the umbrella of Locke & Key: The Golden Age.

The Locke family has lived on the Keyhouse estate for over 250 years, and this particular story takes place in the early 1900s. Chamberlin Locke and his wife Fiona give a gift of an ornate dollhouse which is a replica of their own, to their daughters Mary and Jean. The magic Small World key creates the family in miniature and the girls can watch their family in the dollhouse. But in this supernatural thriller, things take a sinister turn quickly. Soon the miniature girls and their brothers Ian and John are fighting for their lives when a spider takes up residence in the dollhouse.  The artwork is again superb, with Locke family traits being readily evident, plus the keys we are familiar with are utilized to great effect in the story.

The note at the end of the issue, From The Publisher’s Desk, is what truly excited me for it included information about the future of Locke & Key. Creators Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez share news of the script that Hill is writing for Hulu (edit- Netflix picked up the series to film when Hulu passed on it) based on the series, and hint at a new Locke & Key comic series called World War Key. Be still my beating heart- a live series and a new six-book cycle??  So I am thrilled that I hopefully have many more years of Locke & Key epicness ahead of me!

Make sure you check out my reviews for Volume One and then the remaining horror series, Volumes Two through Six.

-Nancy

 

Hill, Joe, Gabrriel Rodriguez & Jay Fotos. Locke & Key: Small World. 2016 Variant Covers

Locke & Key: Volumes 2-6

This is one of the BEST graphic novel series EVER! Strong from beginning to end- I can’t recommend it enough! I will now wait as you rush out to purchase this series…

Ok, are you back from the book store? Let’s continue. When I read the first volume back in April, I said “Locke & Key is truly one of the best graphics novels I have ever read, hands down. It just dominates. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are superb storytellers, and this first novel makes me anxious to read the rest of the series. Who cares that I have family, work and school commitments? Lovecraft is calling me.” Well, real life got in the way and I didn’t want to read the rest of the series piecemeal, so I waited until my family was on vacation to give my undivided time to finishing the series. *Warning- some spoilers ahead!*

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Volume 2-Head Games:

After reading the first volume of the Locke & Key series and absolutely loving it, I knew I had to read all six volumes. Each book is dense, and takes time to get through, but is so worth the effort. This second volume delves deeper into world-building, with much back story and character development. Dodge, the malevolent soul released from the well by Bode, has now managed to worm himself closer to the family by taking on a new guise. The Locke family is none the wiser, for “Zack” manages to manipulate or take out any other person who suspects the truth. More magic keys appear, with intriguing diary entries from a Revolutionary-era ancestor in the back of the book explaining the powers of each key. The Head Key proves to be the most intriguing for a head can be opened and memories examined, showing how memories can be subjective to each person. The illustrations showing’s Bode’s colorful kaleidoscope of memories, compared to Ellie’s black and white adult memories are brilliant.

Volume 3-Crown of Shadows:

The third volume continues to dominate. The Locke family is still struggling over the death of the father, with the mother Nina crumbling under the strain of her rape and her husband’s murder. Her drinking takes a toll on the whole family, with Kinsey and Tyler having to take on the adult roles of parenting their little brother since their mother is too drunk to do so. More keys are discovered and used for evil by Zack, but combated by the three siblings with their own keys, still not knowing who is behind the attacks. Nina discovers a magic chest (which surprised me for they make a point in saying that the magic is for the young) which fixes broken items, leading her to put her husband’s ashes in and hoping for a miracle. Unfortunately, it can not mend death, leading to a poignant conclusion of Nina’s breakdown and the discovery of the mysterious Omega Key.

Volume 4-Keys to the Kingdom:

Another solid entry but it runs into the “middle problem” of a series when the beginning sets up the plot and atmosphere, and the middle is left with hanging storylines before the last volumes (hopefully) wrap up everything successfully. The beginning of the book was a fun start, with the illustrations drawn to emulate Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes style, to set up the stage for an animal showdown. Many more keys are found by the Locke siblings, and for the first time, they are not documented in the diary entries but they are obvious as to their power with the awesome battle illustrations drawn by Rodriguez. Lucas/Zack is still manipulating the family, especially Kinsey whom he romances, but Tyler is beginning to put together the clues. The end of this volume concludes with an epic cliff hanger.

Not every series can be perfect- and I do have some issues: I found the Skin Key to be problematic with stereotypical racial overtones, Ellie’s constant misfortune including her son Rufas’s intellectual disability and the implication that he is too stupid for the Head Key to be used on him, and the teenagers poor decisions in regards to what they let their friends and love interests know. I do look forward to how volumes five and six resolve the story and hopefully tie up some of my stated issues.

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Volume 5-Clockworks:

Backstory awesomeness!!! We finally get an explanation of the keys’ origin during the Revolutionary War era, as hinted by the diary entries of different Locke generations in the back of the previous volumes. The present-day Locke’s discover the Timeshift Key enabling them to witness history. They observe the first Locke family as they endure tragedy from the British while protecting the American rebels. Tyler and Kinsey watch as the 1700’s Locke children witness the evil hiding in the caverns below their home. Later we are privy to what happened in 1988 with Rendell (the father as a teenager) and his friends and how the evil invaded Lucas. It was especially heartbreaking to see how Lucas had truly loved Ellie until he was accidentally taken over, all due to Rendell’s immaturity and bad ideas. This volume had many tragic deaths, all of whom were innocent, due to the evil that got loose from the Black Door. I can not wait to see how this story concludes, and what will happen to Bode, now that the evil is in him. What legacy awaits the Locke’s?

Volume 6- Alpha & Omega:

All the mythology that has been building over the series comes to an epic conclusion. The entire Locke family is fighting for their survival, as an evil entity has been gaining strength and is determined to take over. This coincides with prom, and a large group of foolish teens head into the cave for after-prom festivities, not knowing that they are walking into evil’s lair. The final showdown occurs with Kinsey and Tyler fighting the demon that looks like their little brother. Other friends step up to assist, often with devastating results. The death toll builds, with some surprising twists and turns. Will they be able to vanquish the enemy, and at what terrible price? While the poignant epilogue gives the Locke family some closure and a few happy endings, the Locke family is forever changed by the demons they fought and the tragedies they endured.

A few final wrap-ups: The artwork made this series for it established the atmosphere to coincide with Hill’s magnificent and well-paced storytelling.  Rodriguez is crazy talented. He has included Easter eggs in this series from the start, with details drawn into pictures or words written into books in a library background, so I had to smile when I recognized Hill and Rodriguez drawn as the paramedics on page 18. Although I have been on the lookout for eggs, I wonder how many other details I have missed or what other background characters have been people the artist knows.

So, everyone, you MUST READ this horror series! Beg, borrow or steal these books. You will be glad you did.

-Nancy

L&K

 

Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft

Locke & Key is truly one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, hands down.  It just dominates. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez are superb storytellers, and this first novel makes me anxious to read the rest of the horror series. Who cares that I have family, work and school commitments? Lovecraft is calling me. *Warning- some spoilers ahead!*

The story starts with a family tragedy as the Locke family is terrorized by two students who have an ax to grind with the father, Rendell, who is a high school guidance counselor. This book is not for the young, as adult themes of sexual assault and extreme violence are implied or shown. After the father’s murder, the shattered family leaves California and heads to Massachusetts to start over at the Locke family estate, where Rendell’s younger brother Duncan provides them sanctuary.

Nina, the mother, shows extreme strength (although she drinks too much) in trying to keep it together for her children Tyler, Kinsey and Bode. Bode, at six years old, copes differently than his high school siblings who carry guilt and shame for their actions before and during the attack. The grieving family settles into their new home and explore the extensive grounds near the ocean. Bode, curious to a fault, is the one who discovers the secret in the locked-up well house. Who is calling to him from the well, and what do they want? So while the family believes they escaped from the monsters from their past, one is still following them intent on creating more havoc, and a new mysterious enemy is closer than they know.

Rodriguez’s artwork is what makes the novel so amazing. The illustrations are lush and detailed, and he makes each new character individual and unique. He captures emotions perfectly and makes Sam, one of the disturbed killers, eerie and believable. The supernatural aspects of the story with Dodge, the mystical being in the well, were appropriately creepy and drawn meticulously, and often you can find little clues hidden in the pictures if you examine them carefully.  The layout of the pages varies and is easy to follow, and no matter if it is a small panel or full page, each drawing contributes to advancing the story.

As the first in a six-part series (edit- volumes 2-6 reviewed here) the storyline is set up to explore threads that are introduced and hinted at to make you eager to continue reading. Joe Hill, aka Stephen King’s son, won an Eisner Award for Best Writing in 2011 for this series and it is well deserved. Hill also writes novels, but this story is better told in graphic form,  so his collaboration with Rodriguez was well worth the effort. I will definitely be buying this six-volume set for the graphic novel collection at my library, and I look forward to seeing other people enjoy this book as much as I have!

-Nancy

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Hill, Joe & Gabriel Rodriguez. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft. 2008.

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