Locke and Key by Joe Hill and drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez is a deceptively simple book. It is a disservice to this book to provide a cursory look at the plot. Although technically a horror book, this is far removed from that genre, often touching on family dynamics and the impact of death has on a family. The pacing is flawless, I had serious trouble putting this book down. Generally I enjoy spacing out the reading of a graphic novel, however, L & K sinks it’s hooks early without respite. I especially appreciated the doling out of the mythology of this world. The fantasy elements tend to be more of a backdrop while we are introduced to our main characters, and only comes to the forefront at the end of the story. This is really a family drama with fantasy sprinkled as a spice. Joe Hill walks that fine line between revealing too much mystery, and not moving the story forward with great success.
The art is exquisite. Children and women are cute, men are ugly or masculine and backdrops are extremely detailed. There is an excellent sense of motion in this book, and the acting is superb. Faces express intense emotion with some subtlety, and extremities show controlled motion panel to panel. The only problem that I have with art, is that the women tend to be too much of the same. I had a hard time distinguishing between the mother, the girl in the well, and the girl at the track. That being said, there is some great panel layouts. There are several scenes that show the same figures in the same placement in the panels, to subtlety progress the story through symbolism.
This is not a horror book. This is a damn fine graphic novel! Though Locke and Key sports a hefty 25 dollar price, It is well worth the value. It is a hardcover, with a ribbon that will look great on your bookshelf. This is a must own, and I can’t wait for the next installment from IDW.