The dead plot against the living, the darkness closes in on Keyhouse, and a woman is shattered beyond repair, in the third storyline of the Eisner-nominated series, Locke & Key! Dodge continues his relentless quest to find the key to the black door, and raises an army of shadows to wipe out anyone who might get in his way. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Locke children find themselves fighting a desperate battle, all alone, in a world where the night itself has become their enemy.
Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.
He writes short stories too. Some of them were gathered together in his prize-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts.
He won the Eisner Award for Best Writer for his long running comic book series, Locke & Key, co-created with illustrator and art wizard Gabriel Rodriguez.
He lives in New Hampshire with a corgi named McMurtry after a certain beloved writer of cowboy tales. His next book, Strange Weather, a collection of novellas, storms into bookstores in October of 2017.
I've read this multiple times and it's always good stuff.
Intense, dark, and (minus the spooky twist) a very realistic look at a family crumbling under the weight of a tragedy. And the older I get the more I can sympathize with Nina and her struggles. Fantastic job, Mr. Hill.
Original review 2012 Crown of Shadows is yet another awesome installment in this series. Joe Hill is at the top of his game telling the story of this family, and Rodriguez is quickly shooting to the top of my list as the illustrator.
This one deals with horror from the paranormal and the horror from a personal crisis. The mother, Nina, is burying herself in alcohol to cope with the tragedy that took her husband and left her with deep emotional scars. Naturally, her problems are seeping into the children's lives. But no matter what irresponsible thing she does, you can't bring yourself to hate her. Hill has made her a three-dimensional character, and you can't help but feel an amount of sympathy for a woman that broken.
Zach is still lurking in the shadows. Literally, now that he has the Shadow Key. He's carved out a place in each of the children's' lives, and is desperately searching for...what? Each Key he gets puts him closer to whatever endgame Hill has waiting for us. And personally, I can't wait to see what it is!
This review is brought to you by the craaaaaaaaaazy cat lady . . .
Crown of Shadows picks up right where Head Games ended. With their mother spiraling further into alcoholism and depression, the kids are on their own. And when one of said kids has decided to remove all fear from her brain, things have the potential of getting a bit dangerous . . .
Throw into the mix more shenanigans from Dodge and his desperate attempts to find the key to the black door. Those dang keys . . .
Speaking of keys. The Shadow Key ain’t something to f*&^ around with, kids. You better make sure you have an army of shadow-battling minions at the ready . . .
Either that or find yourself one of those biggun’ keys . . . I mean the Giant Key . . .
As always, the artwork was phenomenal and the story just keeps getting darker and more exciting. Volume 4, here I come!
There Jeff. I read a damn graphic novel. Happy now?
Three volumes in and Locke & Key’s story remains largely unchanged. The Locke kids – Tyler, Kinsey and Bode – continue to grieve over their murdered father, their mother’s still drinking heavily, and Zack Wells/Dodge/whatever its name is in this book, is doing more dastardly things. This time he’s looking for the black key… to do something, probably evil! Kinsey goes to a cave, following her dad’s footsteps as a teen, and more magic keys appear in the Lockes’ cartoonishly gothic mansion, Keyhouse!
Despite stretching his near-static plot still further, Joe Hill’s script for Crown of Shadows makes this the best book in the series for me – though that’s not saying much as I didn’t like the first two very much at all! Kinsey and her friends’ excursion to the seaside cave was pretty good and filled with unpredictable menace and mystery (though the payoff is weak).
And while Zack Wells’ attack on the kids in the third act was eye-rollingly incompetent, it was drawn really well by Gabriel Rodriguez, whose artwork I’m slowly warming to. I liked the way that fight section was divided into a panel per page, similar to the Superman/Doomsday fight in The Death of Superman. The epilogue was fun too, in a nod perhaps towards Hill’s dad’s novel Pet Sematary.
There are still problems. The widow Locke’s alcoholism is getting very tiresome by this third book. She’s written as the stereotypical alcoholic and her clashes with Kinsey are melodramatic and corny. I want her to do something other than drink and cry over her dead husband – anything! And don’t tell me that that’s a realistic depiction of a drunk, I’m hardly looking for realism in a series where keys literally open up gaping holes in peoples’ heads and you can physically pluck out emotions!
The way some keys work is again annoying. Tyler and Bode discover a new giant key that, yup, makes you giant – but how exactly does someone revert back from gigantism? Hill and Rodriguez conveniently ignore this issue. Again, I’m not looking for realism because oh ho ho it’s magic you know, I’d just like to feel that the creators have thought through what they’re doing beyond “wouldn’t it be cool if…”. Oh yeah and nobody spots the giants except for a single kid. Fuuuuck you, Joe Hill!
Sam and Dodge’s spirit fight at the start was plain retarded. How do spirits bleed? What are they bleeding? It’s completely nonsensical.
Generally though, Crown of Shadows isn’t bad. I’m still not seeing what the majority of readers love about Locke & Key but I’m slowly moving in that direction – assuming the series gets better. What does the Black Key open? For me, it’s Volume 4 – onwards!
oooooo... the eeriest of the eerie, The Crown of Shadows! and what exactly is a crown of shadows? well, the wearer of this fell crown becomes the Dread Lord of All Shadows. and what exactly does that mean? well, shadows become solid and are now at your beck & call - to dance, to fight, to search for magic keys, to battle man and woman (and poor little children and headstrong teenagers as well), to wreak havoc and to bring down terror amongst your enemies. i want one! i can think of a lot of things i could accomplish with this nifty crown. besides, i grow tired of this crown of thorns.
dark, devious, delicate, occasionally despairing, often delightful... this fourth installment in the Locke and Key series is yet more imaginative, high-quality adventure. kudos, creators! this series is surely one of the finest achievements in graphic novels birthed in the new millenium. the art is typically splendid - vivid, beautifully colored, often happily surprising. the sight of a giant-sized Tyler opening up the Key House like it was a dollhouse - opening it up from the inside - was worth the price of admission. just as well-done: a marvelous opening battle between two swirling ghosts (with two very different agendas).
Joe Hill's writing remains top-notch. this volume has less characterization than previous volumes and often feels like a non-stop whirl of action. all of that is accomplished perfectly. but he remains a writer of depth; in between and during the adventures, we see Kinsey continue to form tangible, supportive, rather off-beat friendships and we continue to see the impact of her literal removal of the ability to feel either fear or sadness. rather a mixed bag, that. we also see the drunken mother... remain a drunken mother. not a whole lot of wish fulfillment there. the mother is sympathetic, sad, pathetic, and monstrous - all at once. good job on that, Hill.
so yes: Volume 3 is great. a great series! no complaints.
Out of the three volumes this is probably the best one yet. The plot just keeps getting better. I've finally learned to truly appreciate the different powers of the keys. The two latest keys were nothing but fantastic. I honestly want all of them for myself. Especially the key with the head thing. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm not going to talk about the powers anymore.
The characters got even better now. I'm liking everyone but the villain, Luke. He's an annoying piece of shit to be honest. The mother is an alcoholic who can't seem to take care of her family anymore. Everything is consistent from the beginning. Joe Hill can fucking write. He doesn't need his dad's popularity for him to be a successful writer because i believe this series proves his talent. I'm currently reading his novel, NOS4R2 and hopefully I'd enjoy that too.
4.5/5 stars. I have a huge feeling one of the next ones would finally receive a 5 from me. Damn it this one almost did, but it needed a bit more. I've read the first 3 volumes in one day, and I just can't stop. I'll be reading the rest tomorrow.
Very interesting volume. I love how the story is progressing. Towards the end, the issues become faster, with less words and more pictures. I don't necessary have a problem with it, but I hope it doesn't become a trend for the author to make this longer than necessary. And oh the cliffhanger at the end of this volume! Now I can't wait for number 4.
SECOND READ: Such a good volume. The Epilogue in this one - Beyond Repair- is so well done. Although I have a lot of sympathy for Nina, I also completely get where Kinsey is coming from. Knowing Kinsey's take on this later on added something to it as well.
I love the Shadows - - I'm so impressed with the way they were drawn.
FIRST READ: Excellent again! I'm enjoying how some things feel nicely familiar from the show and then other things are delightfully unexpected because they were omitted or presented differently. I love everything about this, the characters, the house, the keys, the strangeness of it all. Looking forward to the next one!
Enjoyed this one more than Vol.2 despite spoiling the plot watching the TV adaptation.
So what happened was, I thought the first season will most likely follow Vol.1 & 2, however, I was wrong, it covers a lot of ground, all through the first 4 volumes. And I couldn't stop, I had to binge the whole season. Therefore, I knew everything happening in this volume going in.
Regardless, Netflix did an excellent job bringing Joe Hill's vision to TV and in some way, does a better job with the story and fleshing out the characters, especially 'Dodge'. Highly recommended!
The Dreams and Ideas of Free Men are as an Army of Shadows, and as impossible to strike down ...
So says Colonel Adam Crais, a hero of the American Revolution whose statue guards the grounds of the school where the Locke kids go in Lovecraft, Massachussets. The quote is well chosen to define the turning moment in the comic book series written by Joe Hill and brilliantly illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. Because in this third album, the Locke kids start to fight back against their hidden enemy who hunts them mercilessly in their own home – the ancestral family mansion called the keyhouse.
A place of shadows and secrets, where unlikely keys make the impossible possible. Grown-ups can’t see the magic that surrounds them in keyhouse. Usually...
The army of shadows is also a literal one, unleashed by Dodge with the help of another magical key and a crown that allows him/her to command darkness. The best single issue so far is number five - “Light of Day” - where a battle between giants fills several full page panels. Great characters, amazing creativity and graphic skills are the ingredients that once again ensure a memorable experience for the readers.
To the panoply of keys discovered in the previous two albums we can now add the ones that unlock shadows, one I dubbed the Gulliver trick and a last one I like to call the Asklepio key. The last one gives the author an opportunity to showcase another adult character study, to balance the world as seen through the eyes of the Locke kids. In this case the protagonist of the last issue is Nina Locke, whose only way to cope with her trauma so far is to find refuge in the numbness provided by alcohol.
The story arc ends with a huge cliffhanger, promising an even scarier and thrilling experience for the next issue. One that is already waiting for me by the bedside. I guess I’m lucky to be able to read this stuff without having nightmares afterwards .
Locke & Key Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill has Bode finding more keys! One makes shadows creatures come alive and the other keys you will have to read about! Quite the imagination! A fun, strange, and sometimes creepy story by always awe inspiring. The graphics are out of this world!
Well I can tell you one thing about working from home - you certainly need a lot of distractions to get you through the work - and re-reading this series has certainly been great fun although I realise that even though I sit next to the computer all day long I have let my updates slide a bit.
We are now at the mid-point to the series which I think (okay I am no writer but I can imagine right) that this is the challenging point. Where you are past the introductions and setting the scenes, rather now you are having to get ready to make good your promises and get things lined up for the rush towards the end of the story.
While I was updating this sit I saw that this was only 152 pages long - considering the additional artwork pages (from the individual editions) the guides to the keys you would think that 150 odd pages would have felt too short but the depth of the story just draws you in and you do not realise how few pages can contain so much I am no expert on graphic novels but this deserve all the accolades it was given.
And so its about time I return to the Locke family and more especially the children and see what is going on in Lovecraft county.
I read the first two volumes to this amazing series some time ago - and for various reasons (including the fact lots of other books turned up to distract me) I never got to complete the series. Well here I am ready to face the challenge - the problem is that what can you say when obviously this is the mid point in an on going series with a tightly written storyline.
Dilemas aside the art work and plot are still as tense and crisp as the first instalment and okay I will be the first to admit I am a graphic novel novice- but to me continuity is key. Knowing that from one book to the next even though they may represent months and months of individual releases the is a sense of familiarity running through it all (I remember reading the Gunslinger and being caught out more than few times).
So what happens - well thats a tricky one without giving things away but each time I read it - and yes i have gone through it a couple of times I find something new in. I think that is one of the things I love about some of these books - there are layers which you can peel away and find something new, an in-joke, a hidden reference, a homage to another story they are all there for the discovery, and even though you can rip through a graphic novel in a fraction of the time to read a novel you can still go back and spend as long as you want exploring.
Man oh man, is this series fantastic. Jamal and Scot are hilarious. I want to be friends with these two. The family is really falling apart, mainly due to Mama Locke falling into alcoholism. But with here out of the way, we get this fantastic arc with the Locke kids battling the crown of shadows. Rodriguez shows just how talented he is with all these diverse shadow creatures. He's created quite a menagerie. Then when Tyler breaks out the giant key, I was amazed at those full page panels. That was quite the slobberknocker. Time to break out volume 4. So glad I decided to reread these for Halloween.
I think this may have been my favorite Locke & Key volume so far. There's been such a solid well of character development built up in the last two volumes that this one was capable of playing off of nonstop action without feeling rushed or lacking. As usual, the artwork is beautiful and the writing is Joe's typical bizarre, creepy, delightful style.
In volume 3, Dodge is determined to find the Omega Key, and raises an army of shadows to fight the poor Bode children, who are realizing that the stakes are steadily increasing. Sharks are circling them fast, and blood is in the water.
Series content warning: violence, sexual assault, homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism. All negative views are challenged by the text, but are very present.
Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez has done it again with this volume of Locke and Key. I absolutely love this series and I'm so sucked in! They did an amazing job on this series so far and I can't wait to read the rest of it!
This series gets better and better. 3 more keys have been discovered in this book alone. The whole family is in on the finding of them now. They still seem to be losing against the villain who seems to be winning. This book is so creative and unexpected. I have no clue where its going and I am happy to ride with them where ever.
The art is continued and does a great job. They have the characters down.
I am excited to see what is going to happen next. I like IDW publishing, at least this book. I want to check out some more.
A good volume of the Locke & Key series, which really ramped up the action and furthered the plot a lot more than the previous instalment. With Crown of Shadows we’re introduced to a couple of new keys, and start to uncover a little bit more of the lore of the keys. We’re also really starting to see the emotional impact of previous events on our main characters. They’re struggling, which I’m not surprised at, but there’s also the burgeoning acts of courage and inner strength that are starting to appear in the children that hint at greater moments to come.
The main plot itself, although it is moved forward here, is still on the slow burn. Our antagonist hasn’t really moved on from the all consuming desire to find a certain key that they’ve been searching for since the first volume. However, revelations have started to appear that helped to move the plot on and keep me intrigued.
Definitely one of the better volumes, and I’m excited to see where this leads into the next volume.
I started reading this graphic novel series because of the recently released Netflix adaptation. I honestly didn't know what to make of it at first, but now three volumes in and I can only say they're pretty great :D
Crown of Shadows is the third book in the Locke & Key series and starts right off from how book 2, Head Games ends.
The Locke kids are starting to slowly figure out that Keyhouse is more then it appears and the keys are magical abilities to do some cool stuff!
Kinsey is finally finding her tribe (true friends) which is great! Bode is still trying to find all the keys in Keyhouse and is worried about his Mom. By the way, the Mom has got to get her shit together. I know she’s in grief and wounded but come on! You got three kids that lost their father and they are depending on you to help them navigate a really tough start to life. I’m about done with this Nina chick!
Dodge is still trying to find the key to the black door and ends up using the shadow key to take out the Locke kids. All of the shadows were scary and if I was a 7 year old, I would have nightmares for years. But Kinsey, Bode and Tyler end up fighting off the shadows and live to see another day!
This is really a great series! Go check it out if you like graphic novels and especially in the horror genre!
I never reviewed some of these volumes when thy originally came out, so because there is now a tv series, I decided to quickly reread them and write quick (for me, anyway) reviews to remind me of what is going on.
The series is a tribute to H. P. Lovecraft, obviously, from the subtitle, a horror series that is great because it is that rare, perfectly in-synch collaboration between good writing and art. So in this third volume things really begin to take off, with the grieving Locke kids--Tyler, Kinsey and Bode--facing the evil Dodge, who gets one of the key magical keys, and a crown, that allows him to command darkness, unleashing The Crown of Shadows in all its nightmarish horror. In the issue “Light of Day,” in particular, we see full page panels of giants battling that just might require some people to sleep with the light on.
Great family drama, beautiful illustrations, inventive approach (those keys that we keep finding). As good as I recalled it.
It should go without saying, but this graphic novel is awesome!! This one is super dark and intense. Maybe even more so than the last one. And the more intense it gets, the more I love it. The art is still phenomenal and I find myself stopping to just stare at certain drawings.
Dodge’s character is just sooo intriguing and mysterious. Like who the heck is Dodge?!?! And when will the mom stop freaking out and start taking care of the kids?!?!
I’ll be keeping these reviews on the short side because there’s a whole series I will be reviewing.
I totally recommend this to those who enjoy a dark tale with fantasy, thrills, and some good ole fashioned gore. Or even just for the art alone. Soooo good!!!
I admit that I was a little concerned that I might have lost the thread of this story and that just picking up with Volume 3 might be a bad decision. It's been a year and a half since I read Welcome to Lovecraft and Head Games back to back, after all. But, while it certainly wouldn't have been a sacrifice or anything to re-read Volumes 1 & 2, it wasn't necessary in the end.
True, this volume picks up right where the last one left off, but there's enough history in the story and the context to make it feel seamless, even though it took me far too long to get back to this series.
And it's so good. I'm very tempted to just keep reading them and finish out the series. This is getting darker (hard to imagine since it started out so raw and emotionally powerful) and it's taking on a more urgent tone. The spirits are getting restless, as they say. The chaos in the Locke family is bad enough as it is, alcoholic mom grieving and losing herself in the bottle, and the kids grieving and struggling to take up her slack while still trying to live their own lives, but add in that they have the added responsibility prevent the keys from falling into the wrong hands, and the forces against them are getting stronger and more ruthless. All this while also somehow keeping mom in the dark about what the keys actually are and can do. Though, the one she discovers at the end is kind of heartbreaking, and I feel for her. Her need and desperation is palpable - she just wants her life and family to be whole again.
The artwork is again amazing. In chapter 5, there's a section of about 8-10 pages that is just pure art - no dialogue - depicting a fight scene, and the movement and force of those images is enough to carry the story along. Nothing needs to be said, because the pictures say it all. This is one of my favorite things about graphic novels, and these ones in particular, because the artwork is so well done, and so evocative, that minimal dialogue is needed to get the point across.
Still, the writing is amazing as well, and works hand in hand with the art to tell the full story. Joe Hill is one of my favorite authors because, like his dad, he can create history and depth of character with just a few words. It's magic.
Locke & Key has been nothing but spectacular since it's inception. Hill and Rodriguez, despite crafting a series about keys that literally do the impossible, have created these very relatable characters that are both memorable and seemingly real. You hurt when they hurt, cheer when they overcome and anticipate what happens next when the story ends. These are all feelings that an author wants to pull from their audience and Hill does it so well that it's hard to believe that he's still so young in his career.
As the story continues in Crown of Shadows, we're met with the discovery of more keys and the further deteroration of Nina. Nina's decent is heartbreaking to say the least. I've experienced the effect she's having on her kids through the actions of my own mother when I was a child. It never got to a point of but the alcohol abuse and hurtful words certainly had an effect on me.
A lot happens here but with Rodriguez's skillful hand, the panels are constructed tightly and the suspense is built adquately. Aside from Sean Phillips, Rodriguez might be my favorite artist at the moment.
On a side note, there's a great foreward written by Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man). To receive praises from a guy who wrote one of the most critically acclaimed series of the last decade is not a bad review at all.
This series just becomes more and more stunning as it goes along. The story is just amazing and creepy and I love every second of it. Joe Hill really is a master at spinning a wonderfully creepy tale and this series is just further proof of that. I find that this instalment was much darker, it actually gave me chills at one point and I was completely sucked in and before I knew it it was already over and I was itching to pick up the next one! And of course I can’t end this review without mentioning the mindblowingly beautiful illustrations, they truly bring this story to life in a way that’s unreal!
I wish I could give this volume 10 stars because it deserves so much more than just 5. A true work of art, in story and in visuals. Someone give me the brain key so I can forget this volume then reread it then forget it and reread it again, over and over and over like I'm reading it for the first time because that's how amazing it was.
Huh, no spoilers in my old review, yay. And it still stands - at 30, still afraid of the dark and still plagued with night terrors. Go me.
6/10 - 6/13 2014 Oh what to say about Volume 3: CROWN OF SHADOWS?
Was I expecting more phenomenal storytelling by Joe Hill? Absolutely.
Was I expecting Gabriel Rodriguez to bring the words to life in a visual array of haunting beauty? You betcha!
And, I was no disappointed, at all.
The world evolves bringing the readers a new key that brings the horrors of shadows to life. Confession: at 26 years old, I’m still afraid of the dark, and I’m honestly terrified of shadows. So CROWN OF SHADOWS hit me on a deeper, more emotional level than either of the first two volumes. Rodriguez brought such haunting images to life for me, that I had nightmares the night I read this. When I woke up, there was a shadow spider above my bed, and let’s just say, it wasn’t a great night for me, sleeping wise.
But, hell, that’ll happen, and even having nightmares, this volume turned out to be my favorite of the series thus far. I love when each volume or book in a series is better than the last. When I can follow a journey and be so entranced by it, that I can’t put the book down..
Joe Hill, with this series being the first works I’ve read by him, has solidified himself in being an author I will constantly be on the lookout for. Also, I would love to see these two brilliant creators work together again in the future. The world they have created with the Locke & Key series has been a phenomenal one so far, and yeah, just more fangirling in this review.
Still loving this series! There's been a lot of thought put into this story, and I'd hazard a guess that Hill had the whole thing planned out with a fair amount of detail before starting on this. Rodriguez echoes this detail in the art. I'm especially impressed by how many distinct characters he seems able to draw without the reader mistaking one for another. Things proceed at a decent pace. Some mysteries are being revealed, but more are being discovered. The end of the book promises some good things for volume 4. I can't wait!
Good to see that a certain entity's plans don't always work the way they're supposed to. The Lockes may have a chance after all …
And what a revelation to end the volume on!
I love all the details that go into the story and art. We get glimpses of the architecture of Key House that turn out to be significant later. And every character, no matter how small their role appears to be, seems to have their own personality and backstory.