Joe Hill’s LOCKE AND KEY is surrealist fiction at its finest. It has enough plausibility to maintain the illusion of reality whilst slowly and subtly introducing supernatural elements. In vol.1, Keyhouse, a mansion with doors which transport, temporarily kill (allowing a character to experience life/death as a ghost temporarily), or transform the person who walks through them is explored and established as a key character in its own right. Activated by a special key hidden in plain sight, these doors provide for an interesting take on the supernatural as the characters themselves come to terms with being dead if only for short time.
There’s a lot going on in vol.1. The early chapters (individual issues) introduce the core group of characters, a family who are the victims of a vicious and extremely violent assault which cost them their father/husbands life. With survival instincts on high, Tyler and Nina fight back and manage to escape without further casualty while Kinsey and Bode hide from the terror, reuniting with Tyler and Nina once the police arrive. It’s that incident which leads the family to Keyhouse and things really get going.
Before long we’re introduced to a ghostly being living down a well who manipulates Bode into doing her bidding, a past event resurfaces in a brutally confronting way and more than one family member experiences that ghostly feeling.
I can’t begin to praise LOCKE AND KEY enough. The story is gripping, the characters believable and each a unique and interesting individual, while the supernatural elements are, almost natural and slot in seamlessly with the story.
*A note on the medium: I read LOCKE AND KEY: WELCOME TO LOVECRAFT on my Kindle Paperwhite and was initially sceptical as to how a graphic novel would hold-up from a visual and readability perspective. I was completely blown away but how much I enjoyed the medium. So much so, that I feel, the presentation in black and white and the panel by panel view added a movie-like quality to the experience. For those unsure as to whether to take the plunge into graphic novels on the Paperwhite, if they’re anything like LOCKE AND KEY, it’ll be a very rewarding experience.