Monday, November 16, 2009

"Locke & Key: Head Games" by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

"Locke & Key: Head Games"
Written by Joe Hill
Illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Format: Hardcover, 160 pages
Publisher: IDW Publishing
The review is based on a bought copy of the book.

New York Times bestselling writer Joe Hill and artist Gabriel Rodriguez, the creators behind the acclaimed Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, return with the next chapter in the ongoing tale, Head Games. Following a shocking death that dredges up memories of their father's murder, Kinsey and Tyler Locke are thrown into choppy emotional waters, and turn to their new friend, Zack Wells, for support, little suspecting Zack's dark secret. Meanwhile, six-year-old Bode Locke tries to puzzle out the secret of the head key, and Uncle Duncan is jarred into the past by a disturbingly familiar face. Open your mind - the head games are just getting started!

One of the readings that satisfied me in fullest this year was the graphic novel written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez, “Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft”, so I grabbed a copy of the second volume in Hill and Rodriguez’s series, “Locke & Key: Head Games” as soon as I’ve got the chance.

I was very pleased to meet again the Locke family on their estate of Keyhouse in Lovecraft, Massachusetts and to find once more the characters I liked in “Welcome to Lovecraft”, along with a couple of new ones. I was also pleased to see the characters gain more depth, because Joe Hill builds them further on with explorations in some of the characters past, explorations that contribute in their development in full and make their presence even stronger. Taking shape through the same explorations is the setting of the novel, Lovecraft, adding new and interesting elements to the story, also bringing in a mystery, very well kept along novel’s pages, that made my fingers itchy for turning the pages.

I was eagerly waiting for the second novel in the Locke & Key series because the story caught me in its spell from the first volume and after opening the “Head Games” I wasn’t disappointed. Joe Hill brings new elements within the story that will make it a bit darker and keeps the tension building, but also plays once again with the fantastic in a delightful way. And I refer here especially at the head key, concept which found an admirer in me as soon as I discovered it and which left me wondering about the existence of such a key way after finishing the reading. The process of removing and adding to one’s head ideas and emotions found in “Head Games” is very interesting and left my imagination go wild. And this process brought one of the scenes that I loved the most in the novel, both disturbing and funny, the scene involving Kinsey Locke and the relationship between fear and crying.

Once again “Locke & Key” benefits not only from the story and the fiction built by Joe Hill, but from the wonderful art of Gabriel Rodriguez too. Gabriel Rodriguez brings once again his contribution in making “Head Games”, and the entire “Locke & Key” series, a wonderful graphic novel and a great reading experience. It is difficult to miss the excellent collaboration between Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, because the art backs the story all the way from the start to the end. The characters gain from their graphic depiction and their appearance is in concordance with their emotions and the events surrounding them, the scenes gain more power from the visual impact. It is true that some of the images are a bit hard and violent, but it is nothing that goes beyond the story or that exaggerates it. And I have to say that again the scenes involving the head key are my favorites and, again, with a plus for me for the same one involving Kinsey Locke and the relationship between fear and crying.

I have to admit that “Locke & Key: Head Games” is a bit slower than “Welcome to Lovecraft” and that it concentrates more in the development of the characters and story, but I enjoyed it a lot nonetheless. It clarifies a thing or two from the first volume (I would recommend starting with that one), leaves much for the next ones and me with a great reading and a desire to see how the Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s story continues, and ends eventually.

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