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Shape Shifter

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.

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 art work 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 story line 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 look forward to seeing other people enjoy this book as much as I have!

-Nancy

LockeKey2
Hill, Joe & Gabriel Rodriguez. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft. 2008.

 

 

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Nimona

Awesome full color graphic novel that is filled with adventure, humor, pathos, and love!

Nimona, a shape shifter, appears unexpectedly to become the side kick of Lord Blackheart, the kingdom’s resident villain. Blackheart battles Sir Goldenloin, a former friend and kingdom champion, who isn’t as pure as a hero should be. Nimona’s back story appears murky and her motives and actions are very suspect. A shred of humanity remains in her, and she isn’t the monster that many take her to be, once the epic battle is fought and Blackheart’s and Goldenloin’s true hearts and feelings for one another are revealed. At the end you will be rooting for all of them to find happiness and peace. The conclusion is a mix of joy and sorrow, for some problems don’t always have an easy solution.

Stevenson’s artwork is is fresh and fun. Her characters are often caricature-like with exaggerated features or movements. I have to admit the noses on some characters were off putting, but that’s a small nitpick. The panels have big bold blocks of color in them, with not a lot of detail penciled in. But the aesthetic is pleasing, and her message shines through.

This is a great story for younger reader- it appears light, but actually is very deep and thought provoking. It also has a welcome LGTBQ  and girl power narrative that is important for youth to read. Highly recommended!

-Nancy

Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona, 2015.

 

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