Di's Reviews > Locke & Key, Vol. 2: Head Games

Locke & Key, Vol. 2 by Joe Hill
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Dec 10, 09

Read in December, 2009

The late H.P. Lovecraft's stories are horror classics. He created an entire mythology (often referred to as the Mythos or the Cthulhu Mythos) filled with monsters, throwbacks, and non-Euclidean geometry. He then opened his world up, inviting other authors to play in his sandbox. And play they did. I came late to the fandom, but I'm here now. Which is why I know that, if you're looking for a place to start fresh, you don't want to go to a town called Lovecraft. That's what the Locke family does in the comic/graphic novel series Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.


Following their father's murder, the Locke kids (teens Tyler and Kinsey, and younger Bode) and their mother move to Keyhouse, the Locke family manse. It's there that Bode discovers the ghost key, that lets him separate from his body. There are lots of other keys at Keyhouse, and the epilogues in each collection tell us about them, and about the histories of Keyhouse and the Lockes.

This is a story that works very well in graphic format. Rodriguez's illustrations fit beautifully with Hill's story to show us what is happening and draw us into the story. The artwork enhances the suspense in the story, shocking the reader for effect rather than for shock's own sake. The characters' emotions are captured and clearly expressed in the artwork, not leaving the reader to guess whether someone is amazed or disgusted. The lettering is also well done, without a distracting amount of font changes and jagged speech bubbles.


The story unfolds at a reasonable pace, not so fast that the reader loses track of what's going on -- no mean feat given the flashbacks and changing perspectives -- but never so slow as to risk losing interest. It also follows its own rules. The reader isn't left saying, "Wait a minute. That shouldn't have happened."

By the end of volume 2 of the collected works (Head Games), it's clear that this is a "kids save the world" story. Most of the adults are clueless or incompetent. (Mom after Bode uses the Head Key: "Put the top of your head back on, Bode. Should we have fettuccine for dinner?" No, seriously, the top of his head was gone. You could look inside and see his memories.) The ones who might actually be able to help are quickly dealt with by the forces of evil.


The violence is graphic in both senses of the word, and there is some sex. I would recommend this series to adult horror fans without reservation. It would probably also appeal to older teens, and may be a good choice for reluctant readers.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Alice When did the author "open his world up", please?


message 2: by Di (new) - rated it 5 stars

Di Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. I don't have a date, but according to Authors and Artists for Young Adults, 1995 (updated May 18, 2006) "The Cthulhu Mythos, which was begun by Lovecraft and expanded and developed by his colleagues and collaborators, marked Lovecraft's biggest departure and his greatest addition to the supernatural lexicon." (My emphasis.)
"H. P. Lovecraft." Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale, 1995. Biography In Context. Web. 25 Apr. 2013.


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