locke and key volume 1

Locke and Key, Graphic Novel Review

Locke and Key by author Joe Hill, Illustrations Gabriel Rodriguez

This is actually my second time reading the entire core Locke and Key graphic novel series. That alone should tell you how good it is. I very rarely reread anything, I reread all three huge volumes of this one in a single weekend.

I would consider Locke and Key to be one of my all time favorite books. On the surface it is a supernatural horror tale written by the acclaimed Joe Hill. But it goes so much deeper than that.

Family and grief are at the center of the story. The Locke family has to move into the old family house called Key House after the tragic death of the father. His wife and children were all present and severely traumatized by the event that took him. Now they have to figure out how to move on despite their untreated PTSD and unhealthy coping mechanisms. (Please get professional help when you’re suffering people, remove the stigma!)

Bode, the adorable youngest son finds a key in the house that will send the children and teens of the family on a wild adventure. Different keys have different powers. For instance, one can open a door to anywhere you can visualize while another can open up your head so you can insert or remove knowledge and memories at will.

But this magic is only able to be used by young people. Once you turn 18 your brain has a much harder time seeing magic. So the youngsters take full advantage of as many keys as they can find while they still can. This also bonds them in a way they never thought possible before the tragedy. They are able to connect and work together, strengthening their relationships as siblings.

Meanwhile, there is a dark villainous character trying to gain access to the most powerful of the keys with nothing but ill intent. The children must stop him/her. I say him/her cause there is also a key that can change your gender, and they use it.

Bode has a childish innocence that makes my heart swell. His good friend Rufus, a mentally handicapped boy, doubles that swell by the end. I love him so much it hurts. His role in the story made me cry the first time I read it. He is also treated with respect and as a fully realized person. I know it’s all too common for characters with intellectual disabilities to be treated more like props than sentient beings with feelings. This book shows us the better side.

Every single character in Locke and Key is developed and adds depth to the story. Even side characters are more meaningful than main characters might be in a lesser book.

Grief is the dominant emotion that must be dealt with. Those who know me best know I love books that can explore this powerful emotion with ferver. A story must be unafraid to delve deep into that darkness that most people hope to never have to experience. It’s powerful and can be life changing even just to read about. Joe Hill exceeds expectations with this masterpiece.

He also utilizes fresh and creative supernatural elements instead of rehashing old or popular ones. There are no vampires or werewolves here. Much of the magic comes from within our own minds. I’ve gotten pretty bored with magic that has no rules or boundaries. This magic is specific and doesn’t always work out, it makes it far more interesting.

I strongly recommend Locke and Key to any reader. If you’ve never read a graphic novel before this is a great introduction, but it might just ruin you for all the other ones.

5/5 keys 🗝🗝🗝🗝🗝

Please consider using the following affiliate links to purchase this book, it’s at no extra cost to you and would really help me out, thanks!

Since first writing this review the comic book was adapted into a series for Netflix. I am unlikely to watch it because I don’t want to ruin the magic. We all know how these adaptations go. I’ll stick with the book on this one.

locke and key heaven and earth
locke and key heaven and earth

Locke and Key: Heaven and Earth

Since the publication of the original Locke and Key series there have been several add ons for readers to enjoy. Heaven and Earth includes two short stories and then a bunch of bonus features like some storyboard drawings and pictures of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez goofing around together.

The first story entitled Open the Moon is a tragic short about a man with a sick child with no chance of recovery. He wants to give him the world but has to settle for using a key to open the moon for him instead. I strongly recommend reading this one, it packs an emotional punch.

The second story, Grindhouse, is entertaining enough but doesn’t come even close to living up to the previous story. It’s hard to go from one to the other. Grindhouse is a home invasion horror while Open the Moon is a touching piece of slice of life tragedy.

Although I would say both stories are worth reading I can’t really recommend the book as a whole. I was expecting a full book of short stories involving the magic keys but got mostly filler with a photo album that I am not the audience for. I honestly don’t really know who is. Unfortunately, this drags down the rating of the collection since this is how it’s sold and presented.

If you are a collector then by all means add this book to your shelves. Otherwise, I think it’s better suited to a library rental.

3/5 keys 🗝️🗝️🗝️

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