‘Locke and Key’ by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

I’ve been wary of picking up any of Joe Hill’s stuff.  I felt that had he not been Stephen King’s son, I would probably have never heard of him.  But I kept hearing good things about his ‘Locke and Key’ series, so I decided it was time to put prejudice aside and take the plunge.  I’m glad I did.  The hardback is beauty in book form. Gorgeous to hold, with a macabre yet inviting cover, behind which lurk and pages and pages of vibrant and evocative illustrations. The writing is great too; the words and pictures marry perfectly making for a compelling read.

This is an unforced and effortless read of the sort that hides the talent of those behind it. (i.e. The writing is so good, it’s made to looks easy). Like all good horror tales, the book’s premise is a simple one.  The house that takes centre stage contains any number of mysterious doors that have peculiar powers. One turns you into a ghost, another can take you anywhere. Oh yes and there is a mysterious girl who lives down a well, who probably isn’t as nice as she first seems. Each of these doors has a key that opens on them, and herein lies the beauty of the series. As long as the writers can keep thinking of interesting things to do with a doorway, they can produce key after key which open a portals to story after macabre story.

Having waxed so lyrical, I do have a couple of reservations. The story does feel a little light. There’s a lot of pages for what amounts to not that much exploration of the themes and ideas suggested. There is a violent back-story to the family that live in the house, and some of the panels were over-gory for my tastes. This book is far creepier when it goes for psychological thrills rather than visceral spills. But these are small complaints. I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Welcome to Lovecraft’; it reminded me in places of my all time favourite series ‘The Unwritten’ and at times matches it for storytelling brilliance. High praise indeed. This is a fine starting block for what promises to be an excellent series. I look forward to reading volume two.

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