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Joe Hill – Locke & Key Vols. 3, 4, & 5

December 14, 2012

130, 132, 133. Locke and Key, Vol. 3: Crown of Shadows, Vol. 4: Keys to the Kingdom, and Vol. 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (2010, 2011, 2012)
Locke and Key, Volumes 3-5

Read my review of volume:
1. Welcome to Lovecraft
2. Head Games

Length: 152 pages each
Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Horror

Started/Finished: 21, 23, and 24 November 2012

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have them? Love this series!

The keys’ powers are
amazing, but in the wrong
hands they’re dangerous.

Summary: The Locke kids are never going to recover from the violent death of their father, but they’re slowly starting to adjust to their new life in their father’s childhood home in Lovecraft, and to learn the secrets behind the various magical keys that inhabit their new home.

In Crown of Shadows, Dodge is using his knowledge of the keys and their powers in his quest to find the Omega key, which he will use to unleash unspeakable evil. Kinsey and her friends venture into the flooded caves on the Keyhouse property, and discover that the danger they hold is quite real. But none the Locke kids are unaccustomed to danger, although when Dodge manages to turn very darkness of Keyhouse against them, it’s unlike any threat they’ve faced before.

Keys to the Kingdom introduces a number of new keys, including the Animal Key, the Music Box Key, and the Skin Key. As the Locke siblings use these keys, and the strange and dangerous happenings at Keyhouse continue, Tyler at least begins to suspect that his “friend” Zach Wells might be more than he appears. But can he convince his siblings in time to stop Dodge from getting what he’s after?

The majority of Clockworks is a series of flashbacks, first as we see the story of how the Black Door was originally discovered in Revolutionary War times, and then as Tyler and Kinsey find the Timeshift key, which allows them to vist the past, and learn the story of their father and his friends, and their adventures – and deadly misadventures – with the keys.

Review: This series is so, so good. It’s crazy good. It’s creepy and imaginative and legitimately scary in parts and incredibly creative. It’s an interesting and complex world, which is great, and definitely something I look for in fantasy, but what makes it so great are the characters. They’re rich and multidimensional and believable and heartbreakingly sympathetic and easy to fall in love with, and as a result, this series strikes the perfect balance between worldbuilding, action, and character development.

Volume 3 was probably my least favorite so far, because the bulk of the main storyline shifts away from that balance, and focuses primarily on the kids fighting the army of shadows. The art in this section is particularly beautiful (although it’s uniformly great throughout), albeit beautiful in a thoroughly creepy and nightmare inducing way. But the story itself didn’t feel like much was happening. That’s not true of the first part of the volume, which has a lot of good clues about what’s going on in the caves, nor is it true of the last issue in this volume, in which Nina Locke finds the Mending Key, to emotionally devastating effect. But I didn’t feel like the pieces fit together as well as they could have. 4 out of 5 stars.

Volume 4 picked things up again, however. First of all, it starts with Bode discovering the Animal Key, and the entire first issue is drawn and written as an homage to Calvin & Hobbes. For C&H fans, it’s absolutely brilliant, and the great thing is, it’s completely within the scope of Bode’s character as previously written. The rest of the volume is also really good, with the action ticking along, and more clues being dropped not only for the readers but also for the characters… plus it’s got one hell of an ending. 4 out of 5 stars.

Volume 5 was fantastic, one of my favorites so far. It’s only a six-volume series, so we’re at the point in this volume where things are starting to be explained, but not everything’s clear, and there’s still a lot of potentially awesome things to happen before the end. The flashbacks are done really effectively, letting us finally get to know the Lockes’ dad and his friends, with the added emotional sting of having to watch his kids watch the past, knowing how their father’s decisions will play out a generation later. Good stuff. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Fans of darker, more mature comics – like The Unwritten or Sandman – or anyone who likes creepy character-driven fantasy should definitely be reading Locke & Key.

Crown of Shadows: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
Keys to the Kingdom: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
Clockworks: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon

Other Reviews: RA for All: (3), (4), (5), Tif Talks Books: (3), (4), and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2012 11:29 am

    I really want to try this series at some point. I have heard good things!

    • December 24, 2012 4:51 pm

      Kailana – You’ve probably heard a lot of those things from me, because I am totally hooked…

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