Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"It was very simple on the roof. This is what I told myself: don't be heard. Don't be seen.
"When they came to kill us, I wasn't heroic. I wasn't brave.
"Later on, they found bruises on my little brother's throat. That's how hard I was squeezing him to keep quiet. I bit my lip until it bled. I just really didn't want them to hear us."
Having just read the fifth volume of Joe Hill's masterpiece I felt it was time we finally reviewed the first volume! Tyler, Kinsey and Bode Locke have moved back to the old family pile, Keyhouse, in the prophetically named Lovecraft, Massachusetts. It would be fair to say their reason for returning home is not exactly a happy one. Two of their school friends decided to murder the Locke's father Rendell, apparently at random, and the three kids plus their mother narrowly escaped sharing his fate. Now back where their father grew up, living with their uncle Duncan, life is not about to get any less crazy for them...
Our tale opens with them trying to adjust to their new surroundings, and their new school, Locke Academy, but the ghost of their father, figuratively speaking, is everywhere: at their house, the school, the whole neighbourhood - the Lockes having been a prominent family in the area for hundreds of years. There are more than a few literal ghosts too, some visibly present to the Lockes, some less so. And that really is where the weirdness truly begins, because the murder of their father was, of course, not random at all. As the protagonist begins to secretly make their move against the family, the Locke children discover a strange key that provides the user with the ability to dematerialise and reappear in a different location. It's not the only key they'll find either, but that's for later...
This work really does read like a classic horror novel. It's all about the characterisation and the dropping of subtle facts which will be revealed to be hugely significant down the line, provided you have been paying attention. I read this series with the fore-knowledge that Joe Hill was Stephen King's son and I really do have to comment that it feels exactly like one of his dad's New England horror stories. And that is a huge compliment if you stop to think about it. The tension really builds and builds as we, the reader, see the dastardly plans of the hidden enemy gradually creeping towards fruition, opposed by occasionally unwittingly aided by the Lockes.
So much horror these days is all about the gore, or destruction, whereas this is the exact antithesis of that. Yes, there is truly shocking violence upon occasion, when the story calls for it, but it's the story itself which is the driving force here. Excellent art provided throughout by Gabriel Rodriguez, I must add. I note that there was even a pilot produced for a TV show in the last couple of years, but it wasn't green lit for full production as a series. I am astonished about that, actually, because it would be absolutely brilliant. Fortunately for us, we have the comics.