Joe Hill's talent for pacing is perfectly complemented by Gabriel Rodriguez's knack for perspective. I open this review with that statement because it's the first impression Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft gives. Its first few pages had me on the edge of my seat because of its cool way of showing just enough to tantalize and frighten. Consider: It opens with a knock on the door from two shady teenagers. A husband and wife are inside the house, while outside, their three children are at play. As the wife answers the door, what we see, and she cannot, is the bloody body in the back of the boys' pickup truck and the weapons they are holding behind their backs.
It's a small scene, really, but executed so incredibly that it sets the tone for this book completely. Better yet, it proves what a talented writer working with a gifted illustrator can do: They can make static images every bit as captivating as moving ones.
The story jumps ahead (and back again; the story moves back and forth in time sequences confusingly at first, but the work of sticking with it to sort out the story is well worth it) to the husband's funeral. The wife has survived the attack, as have the three children, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, and she is moving her family into an inherited estate in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. There, Bode sees things the others do not, including a seemingly friendly female spirit trapped at the bottom of a well. The house's doors have many keys, and certain doorways bring about strange occurrences, such as one that turns Bode into a ghost.
Meanwhile, one of the teens who murdered Bode's father is locked away in a mental asylum but receiving messages from the spirit in the well, as well as the tools needed to effect an escape. When he does just that, he knows exactly where to go: Lovecraft.
Hill and Rodriguez are a perfect team, and they execute this suspense story beautifully. Dialog is a special talent for Hill; he gives away just enough, makes his characters reveal just the right amount, to keep the story racing along at a wonderful speed. This book sets up the Locke and Key series for future installments, which is good news. The book is excellent, and the series promises to be addictive.
Reviewed by John Hogan on July 10, 2012