BookBin2015: Locke & Key: Alpha & Omega

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Okay, this one is going to be very brief, as Alpha & Omega is the last in a series of graphic novels that I already have professed multiple times to love. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez created a tantalizing, terrifying world in this series of novels that I definitely cannot wait to revisit in its entirety, thanks to the box set I bought earlier this month.

I have to say that this final novel did let me down a bit, but I believe that this was due more to the setting in of the depressing truth that this was the last Locke & Key visit I would get to make to Lovecraft, Massachusetts (yes, that still cracks me up every time I think about it). I think a sliver of responsibility for this disappointment also rests with the fact that so much time passed in between all my forays into this realm. Again, looking forward to re-reading them all at once, rediscovering what made me love this series in the first place, and hopefully discovering some more of the many enthralling ways that Hill and Rodriguez blew me away with their artwork and storytelling.

Huzzah and hooray.

BookBin2014: Locke & Key: Clockworks

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Remember back when I reviewed volumes 2-4 of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key graphic novel series and stated that I loved those volumes so much that I had already added myself to the library wait list for the fifth volume, Clockworks?

Finally.

That’s right, it took almost 8 months to finally receive the fifth volume…and it subsequently took me less than a day to consume it and still be left starving for more.

I’m not going to go into details other than to say that this volume finally provides the full back story for how Rendell Locke and his friends ended up unleashing the demon that has been plaguing his children. More captivating Hill storytelling set off by beautiful Rodriguez artwork. I cannot reiterate enough that if you love well-crafted horror and stunning illustrations, then these books are a must-read for you.

I’m also going to skip the “Final Verdict” section, because I’m getting these novels. No ifs, ands, or buts. IDW has released the final volume already, so technically, I can go ahead and start stacking up now. I’m torn, though. Do I wait to see if they release a packaged set of all six books? Maybe a special edition set with bonus materials? Or do I just start buying the separate books now?

Decisions, decisions. Mayhaps it’s time to e-mail IDW directly to find out if they have anything planned. To the lair inbox, stat!

BookBin2013: Locke & Key 2–4

I can’t believe that it’s been more than a year since Joe Hill welcomed me to Lovecraft. More than a year since I first encountered the Locke family as they began their long emotional journey back from the brutal home invasion in their San Francisco home that left their father murdered and their mother broken in many ways.

It’s been too long. It’s time to catch up on old times, denizens.

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That’s right, I recently succumbed to my need to enter a library and binge on whatever I could find of interest…and part of what I found were the next three graphic novels from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key series: Volume 2: Head Games; Volume 3: Crown of Shadows; and Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom.

More revelations about the truth behind Rendell Locke’s murder as well as his life in Lovecraft. More keys. More secrets. More discoveries. More darkness.

This is a seriously dark story. I would expect nothing less from Hill—not because he is Stephen King’s son but because he has proven himself to be an incredibly capable storyteller in his own deliciously demented ways. I have to confess, denizens, I am quite in love with Hill’s works. So in love that as soon as I finished these graphic novels, I put myself on a waiting list for his newest book, NOS4A2, as well as the next Locke & Key novel, Clockworks, even though it hasn’t even arrived yet in our library system’s collection (never mind that I’m already third in line on that list!).

Combine Hill’s skills with Rodriquez’s absolutely stunning artwork and add in a dash of connection between these two talents that works in the most wonderful ways and what you have is a story world that pulls you within its gloriously sinister landscape and refuses to let you go. More importantly, you won’t want it to let you go. For all the fear and horror transpiring around you, you’ll want to stay. And when you reach the last page of the fourth book, the true terror will hit you when you realize that now you have to wait for the next reveal.

Oh, the humanity!

For full disclosure, if you don’t like horror or if you don’t like graphic or grotesque artwork, you won’t like the quaint deathtrap town of Lovecraft or any of its demonic delights. Rodriguez unleashes a phantasmagoria of sinister visuals upon you with his art. But it is absolutely beautiful in its abhorrence.

Final Verdict: I am, 100-percent without-a-doubt, going to purchase these novels for my collection. However, I’m going to wait until the entire series is out before I do. Perhaps IDW Publishing will package them all together in one set. Whatever way they market these books, I don’t care. They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine.

BookBin2012: Heart-Shaped Box

So, remember how crazy I went over the first volume of Joe Hill’s graphic novel Locke & Key?

It’s definitely a series that I want to continue reading, just as soon as the local library starts bringing in other volumes. Either that, or I might just break down and buy the set. I don’t know. Cheap Loba is cheap.

Regardless, I was impressed enough by Hill’s writing that I knew I wanted to experience it in its longer, less-illustrated form. When I returned Locke & Key, I checked to see if the library had any of his books in stock and…huzzah! Indeed, they did.

This is how I ended up reading Heart-Shaped Box…and falling even more in love with Joe Hill.

Okay, for full disclosure, I’m just going to come out and say what I alluded to in my review of Locke & Key: Joe Hill’s full name is Joseph Hillstrom King and he is the undeniable offspring of Stephen King. Why undeniable? Look:

Beyond the aesthetics (by the way, I’m not entirely convinced that Hill is King’s kid…I think King is slowly reincarnating himself and becoming Hill…mark my word, soon King will just disappear and all that will exist will be Hill), Hill definitely inherited his father’s ability to spin a nice, solid scary story. With his debut novel, he tells the tale of aging metal rocker (and oh-so-subtlely-named) Judas Coyne who, in his retirement, likes to work his way through young women on a state-by-state basis (he’s currently with Georgia, but Florida is about to really rile him up), name his dogs after fellow rock musicians (he owns two German shepherds named Bon and Angus), and collect all manner of creepiness. He owns an authentic snuff film, a witch’s confession, and now, thanks to a weird online auction, he owns the spirit of an old man, which comes attached to a suit that arrives packed in? A heart-shaped box.

Hmm.

There is, of course, more to the story behind this haunted suit as well as who is haunting it and how they are linked to Coyne. Hill wouldn’t be much of a horror writer if he couldn’t spin this bare-bones synopsis into something far deeper, far darker, and far creepier than what I’ve written here. Okay, it’s not a lot deeper. He’s not Tolstoy. He is, however, quite a capable storyteller, with a clean, captivating style reminiscent in all the best possible ways of his dad’s earlier works.

I hate to compare son to father, but really? If you’re going to be compared to someone, wouldn’t you want it to be someone like King? Hill manages to take two popular horror tropes—the “possessed artifact” and the “supernatural revenge” plots—and combine them into a well-paced and convincingly told tale of terror. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises along the way, but the ones that do come along are enough to continuously pull you further along on Coyne’s wild ride toward either redemption or perdition.

I’m not telling you which one he ultimately finds. Guess you’ll just have to read to find out…

Final Verdict: I don’t know if I want to add this one to my own collection. As much as I liked reading it, I don’t know if I would ever revisit it. I feel as though I’ve gotten all I can from it, for now at least. However, I will gladly recommend this to horror fans, especially those who love Stephen King.

BookBin2012: Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

Okay, I’m just going to wait a moment while all you Cthulhu geeks wear yourselves out from your fannish squee frenzy.

All better? Good.

Yes, the subtitle of this first volume of what is currently a five-volume series (the fifth volume has yet to be released, however) is a sly bit of homage to that great proprietor of purple prose himself, H.P. Lovecraft. And, where else would the fair city of Lovecraft be located than in Massachusetts? I’m sure it’s quite close to Arkham and the prestigious Miskatonic University.

For the purposes of this graphic novel, Lovecraft is also the location of Keyhouse, the ancestral home of Rendell Locke, the family patriarch whose brutal murder during a home invasion sends his widow and three children on a cross-country journey from San Francisco back to the East Coast town he once called home.

Of course, any place located in a town named Lovecraft isn’t going to be level in any sense of the word. Keyhouse is vast, twisted, and full of secrets. Believe me when I say that you’ll be dying to learn them all.

Locke & Keye is a collaboration between celebrated genre author Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez. I’ve raved about Rodriguez here at the lair already; he’s the artist behind the CSI graphic novels I’ve recently reviewed, the best being Secret Identity. I was so over-the-top happy to see more of Rodriguez’s exceptional art, which is even more impressive when he’s working with original characters rather than ones based on predetermined appearances. His visual translations of Hill’s bleak, unsettling tale spread through the pages of this novel in a rich, haunting diaspora.

I don’t want to go too far into the details of the story itself. Suffice it to say, the crux of the story is discovery…discovery of strength, of secrets, of keys to unlocking all the mysteries hidden within the confines of the Locke family’s new home and new life. Hill is a king among storytellers, and this is a shining example of his royally inherited prowess.

And if you think that last sentence was a little bit leading, you might have something to stand on there. I won’t say any more about it. I’ll just leave this photo of Joe Hill here, for you to ruminate on for yourselves…

Final Verdict: I completely enjoyed the first part of what I’m hoping to discover is a holistically creepy, captivating series. Bottom line is, if the subsequent volumes are even half as amazing as this first part, it’s going to be an awesome ride from here. I’ve already added this volume to my wish list (alas, this was yet another library loaner) and am contemplating whether or not to just dive in and collect them all. I do believe that my graphic novel collection is growing more rapidly than any other part of my library…and, with stories like this one lining up for consideration, I’m very much okay with that.