Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft (2008)

Joe Hill is Stephen King's kid, and decent enough not to trade on the family name, even though both parents and a sibling are famous authors. He doesn't really need the nepotism, because he's inherited King Prime's ability to really draw a reader into the characters' less than desirable situations, without the hindrance of constantly writing about demonic greasers or writers from Maine. Hill does focus in on maladjusted adolescents, although more The Body than Carrie, and he's great at bringing in light fantasy elements to balance out the grim horrors. Artist Gabriel Rodriguez contributes to that balance, as his basic style is very cute and friendly, so you really feel it when somebody gets an ax buried in the back of their skull.

After an enormous personal tragedy, the Locke family relocates to (okay, okay) Massachusetts, which sure is in New England. Anyway, the kids are left to roam a gothic house full of keys and doorways to all sorts of peculiar places. Ghosts of the past haunt the family, and some are quite hungry for those keys, so that the kids live in constant peril. Even during the "getting to know you" characterization and slow build, those threats hang over the proceedings, urging the reader on, and keeping them worried about their fast friends.

Ever the bane of modern storytelling across all mediums, Welcome to Lovecraft is just the first of multiple volumes. There's enough resolution in this book to allow it to stand on its own, but it's hard not to resent the lingering questions and unfinished business. Things also look to get progressively more fantastic, so there's some danger of coming unmoored from the fairly realist setting here. Regardless, I'm reviewing the book that is, not my concerns about what comes after, and recommending that you try it for yourself. The hardcover is especially winning, with its inbound cloth bookmark, but this is enough of a page turner that I doubt you'd need it.

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