Sunday, June 5, 2011

Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

Buy it from Amazon -- Seriously!
I first discovered Joe Hill’s writing last summer in Oxford. He had just done an appearance at the Merril Collection in Toronto shortly before I left, and his name was starting to pop up everywhere. I read Horns, and found it clever, insightful, chilling and very tightly paced; then I picked up a copy of The Best of the Best New Horror from Stephen Jones, and read Twentieth Century Ghosts—magical. Joe Hill writes exquisite, darkly dreaming prose that lodges itself in the brain like a tumour, the kind of thing that frightens even as it causes flashes of something beautiful. Reading his work inevitably sets my itching for a pen and paper.

I sweet-talked a fresh-faced Diamond employee for about three days at Book Expo America in order to snag myself a promotional copy of Welcome to Lovecraft, then read them both straight through on the long drive from New York to Toronto. I wasn’t disappointed. Hill’s story reminds me very much of Nail Gaiman’s Sandman series with, perhaps, a tight narrative arc and a touch of Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay—certainly, the title Locke and Key evoked Kavalier and Clay’s Escapist for me in imagery if not in sense.

Welcome to Lovecraft is a story about grief and fear, isolation, what it means to grow up: violence shatters the Locke family after a deranged high school students murders the father and the family relocates to Keyhouse in Maine. Tyler and Kinsey, the two eldest children, find themselves haunted by their memories and their newly discovered status as outsiders, their tragedy creating a barrier between them and the normal life of their high school peers. Bode, the youngest, discovers something altogether different: a door which allows him to shuffle off his mortal coil, temporarily, and a well housed by spirit hungry for freedom and desperately, desperately dangerous. To give away too much of the story would be a shame, and I recommend encountering it as I did: enthused but without preconceptions. You’ll discover storytelling of the highest magnitude, coupled with fantastic artwork from Chilean artist Gabriel Rodriguez (Clive Barker's The Great and Secret Show).

A must for anyone looking for a new graphic novel series to sink your teeth into.