Locke and Key – Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill (My foray into the graphic novel)

September 16, 2013
Locke and Key – Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill  (My foray into the graphic novel)Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
Series: Locke and Key #1
Also by this author: Heart-Shaped Box
Published by IDW Publishing on 2009-03
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Horror
Pages: 158
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them.... and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all...! Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder, with astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez.


Earlier this year I read Horns. It was the first book I had read by Joe Hill, and I have to admit, I was truly impressed. I would imagine it would be hard to break out from the shadow of a father such as Stephen King, and there is always the slight feeling that perhaps  the praise for his books was won in some effect because of who his father is. Well, all it takes to dismiss any notions of that is to read his work. Horns was phenomenal. And then later in the year I read NOS4R2, another truly amazing story. Needless to say, Joe Hill is now on my “must read” list. That said, I always assumed my “must read” list would only be composed of novels. So when Locke and Key was recommended to me the first time, I sort of shrugged and thought, ‘maybe’. I’ve never read a graphic novel in my life and didn’t quite see myself starting now. Well, after a couple more times of having it people recommend it based on how much I enjoyed his books, I decided ‘Why not?‘ Still not feeling fully invested, I managed to get a hold of a used copy of the first volume, set it aside, not real sure when it would be bumped up the priority list high enough to actually read. But eventually, I did pick it up.

And wow.


It really is an interesting medium for a story, the focus on telling the story as much with images as with short dialogue. I was skeptical, but have to say, it just works. While I am positive this story could be told in the form of a novel, I can’t imagine I would want to see it that way because it works so well as is.  I just feel like it would lose something. The artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez is stunning and blends so well with Hill’s style of story telling. It is different to take in the art and pull out the details than to read the words and create the image in your head. It gives the reader a unique experience from what they would have with words alone, and I found that I quite enjoyed it.


The story is also, in Joe Hill style, disturbing, touching, creepy, heartfelt, heart-ripping , head crushing and anything else in between. It’s the story of a family that has been displaced by tragedy, moved across the country to house with a name of Keyhouse. It is in their grief and adjustment where the story really takes off. For Keyhouse, is not an ordinary house, but one with doors that offer more than mere passage from one room to another. In this house, some doors will change the person who passes through and not all doors will change a person in the same way. Also, the house is home to more than just the family that has moved in. Since this is a story by Joe Hill, you can only try to imagine what may be lurking there. To know more, you’ll have to just read it yourself. And if you question whether a graphic novel is for you, all I can say is give it chance, especially if you are a fan of Joe Hill’s novels. I would never have picked this up without multiple recommendations, and am honestly looking forward to getting the rest of them (which are already ordered and on their way).



  • H. Anthe Davis April 23, 2014 at 1:02 am

    As a heavy graphic novel reader, I was somewhat less impressed — though perhaps because I wasn’t as taken with the art style. Overall though, it was an interesting premise that I plan to keep reading, and I definitely agree about Joe Hill’s novels. If you haven’t read his short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, you’ll really want to pick that up.

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) April 23, 2014 at 10:10 am

      Well, luckily the art style worked for me. I can see how that could really impact your impression of a graphic novel if it doesn’t. But since this was my first one, it could have turned me off of the medium entirely (I know, not fair at all). I actually have 20th Century Ghosts, but still haven’t read it. Thanks for the recommendation, should really push it up my list, especially in-between books.