Book Review: Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill

Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill is a great person at the wrong place and wrong time revenge thriller, with an added supernatural element. This graphic novel is bloody, gory, funny , and thrilling. The mystery of why the victims are chosen is captivating, as our hero finds out every one who is involved in this murder plot or is it all about the money. The element that makes it interesting is the murder weapon, an axe, holds a power that no matter what is severed the person can live and speak, there’s a lot of decapitations where people keep talking at first it is horrific, but then it turns humorous. Hill who is known for horror delivers a slasher like no other, I would love to see this adapted into a movie or series, there’s lots to expand on. Basketful of Heads graphic novel collects Basketful of Heads issues 1-7 from Hill House Comics and off shoot of DC comics Black Label.

The Plot: June is visiting her boyfriend Liam, who got a summer job as a deputy in a small vacation island, called Brody Island. It’s Liam’s last day on the job, He meets June on the bridge after he finished his last shift. Liam and June are all set to leave the island as a prison break happens and four inmates escape, Liam is eager to help out. The sheriff says he’s got it and tells him to go up to the house to have a meal with the family, and he will join them soon. Liam and June end up eating with the wife and their collage aged son, and take a tour of the house with the sheriffs medieval weapons collection , the winds start picking up, with an incoming tropical storm, the wife gets a phone call and must help out a neighbor, her son takes her, and Liam and June stay at the house. The escapee’s come to the house Liam hides June and goes to take care of the situation. June hears Liam scream but stays hidden she moves later and is confronted, June takes the only weapon she can find a Viking Axe. She defends herself as the guy attacking loses his head, but instead of dying the head keeps talking. She needs to find her boyfriend, she has a talking severed head and an axe with supernatural powers to do it.

What I Liked: The losing head puns do not get old. I loved the mix of horror with comedy. The art took a little getting used to, I did like the art in day light but loved the art at nighttime, where much of the story takes place. I liked the mystery of why Liam was taken and who is involved. June is a pretty cool character, the perfect final girl. The writing is good the story telling goes full circle, and it is a beautiful thing. I like the myth that is behind the Axe. The two end scenes were amazing, and worked for the story.

What I Disliked: The ending was too rushed, the fight was over too quick and I wanted more explanation and motive.

Recommendations: If your fan of Joe Hill this will only make you love him more. I have read all his novels and short story collections, and almost all of his graphic novels. I’m a super fan and man is this graphic novel great. If you like horror you will like this, if you like thrillers you will like this, and if you like black comedy you will like this. I rated Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Locke and Key Volume 6: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill art by Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke and Key Volume 6: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill art by Gabriel Rodriguez. It’s the series finally, the Omega Key has been found and we know what opening that door will bring, creatures from another world that possess what they touch, but if the door is somehow closed, every creature has magic metal that can be used for more keys. I liked this one, a fitting ending, one of my favorite character’s bit the dust. I do like that there’s is a twist in Dodge’s end result, his plan wasn’t as obvious as an army, it’s more than that. Locke and Key is published by IDW comics.

Plot of Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume 1 – The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 – Bode finds a head key, that let’s you open your mind right up, so you and others can see what is inside of it. You can pick the parts out, you don’t want and even add knowledge, like books and information. The thoughts grow into living breathing manifestations that you can pick out of your Brain. Kinsey picked fear and sadness and placed them both in a bottle with a stopper, that sits on her vanity. We get to see the bad guy Dodge/Zach Wells/ The Woman in the Well’s manifestation and how dangerous it can be. the Manifestations can go into any mind as well and manipulate it. We find out that that is how the Woman in the Well got her powers back to reach the two killers in Washington. Zach kills an old teacher that remembered him from years back, and starts investigating Zach’s student file. Kinsey admits she has a crush on Tyler’s new best friend Zach, and he uses this to steal the mind key.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows Dodge only cares about two keys which he does not possess the Well key and the Black/Omega key, and creates a nightmare of shadows to torture Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode. The mom finally discovers the fix it key and figures out what it can do, which leads to disastrous results. When Sam died while going through the ghost door that he’s still a ghost, but the manipulation that dodge once had over him is gone, and he vows revenge. When the ghost form of Dodge talked and fought Sam, it revealed there is a key inside him. Kinsey is starting to fall out of Luke/Dodge/Zach’s influence, as she makes new friends who are a bit of outsiders that show her a link to her father.

Plot of Volume 4 Keys to the Kingdom: Dodge/Luke? Zach has became more vicious in his pursuit of keys, as he tortures the Locke family for the Omega key. There a key is in ghost Dodge is controlling him, we get to see the real Dodge for a second and he is very remorseful. There’s a lot more keys discovered. Dodge and Tyler get get’s recognized, sort of, Erin Voss thinks Tyler is his father and her former high school boyfriend as she is wheeled out of a mental health facility. Dodge doesn’t want her remembering anything and is determined to break into to the mental facility and erase them. Kinsey and Bode also want to talk to talk to her and see if she remembers the keys. Dodge breaks into the facility killing an orderly and open Erin’s head with the mind key, and he finds it empty except a monstrous image of Dodge. Before he can kill her or grab the memory Kinsey and Bode come in having him hide. With her head open they get a look at the almost empty head and realize this image is fresh, and then they find the body of the orderly. Looking at the monster they end up learning the features of the who the monster really is. Dodge, Kinsey’s boyfriend, gets close and she starts telling him what she knows of the Omega key. Dodge is closer than ever, then Kinsey wants to place her favorite in Dodge’s head which he can’t let her see knowing he is the real monster. This makes Kinsey get closer to Jamaal. Duncan’s boyfriend Mike wakes up from a coma and give s a description of Dodge who was in the middle of taking Duncan’s memories of him, when Mike chases him out of the house and gets hit by a car. The ghost of Sam is back, and he plots with someone in the Locke House about Dodge. Dodge’s identity starts to unravel as the Locke family starts paying attention their new friend of the family Zach/Dodge.

The Plot of Locke and Key Volume 5: Clockworks After the big shocking moment final moments of Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom, Tyler and Kinsey find the time lapse key, which allows them to se events of the past. We learned how Dodge turned evil, and how Mr. Locke and friends were involved, Duncan played a part in the change as well. We got to see how all the keys got used not for evil but for good. We found more about the well house how the well key works, which I think the last novel will rely on. We finally go to find out what the omega key unlocks and why Dodge would kill anyone to get to it.

The Plot Of Lock And Key 6 Alpha and Omega We learn Dodge’s master plan, and it’s not what you think. Duncan even though he’s an adult can still dream about the magic. Erin Voss has some memories that survived and those tiny manifestations help out, Scot does an ode to Carrie at the prom, it’s excellent. Kinsey gets to go to Prom with Jamal. There’s way more to Jordan than seems, she does have a heart. Rufus talks to a ghost and is convinced to attack Bode. The prom after party just so happens in the caves right where the Omega Door is found.

What I Liked: Scot as Carrie for prom is so great and a perfect nod to Stephen King from Joe Hill. Rufus is slowly becoming my favorite character in this series, his mental ward break out is so great; the way the panels switch from the real Rufus to the way he see’s himself as an army commando. The Character work on Jordon and explaining a little bit about why she jilted Tyler so hard. Dodge’s plan is a great final twist, when you think he’s going typical bad guy he diverts from where you think it is going. The final scene and the closure you get is amazing.

What I Disliked: The climax could have been better, I was a little bit underwhelmed and felt it ended too fast.

Recommendation: I would recommend this whole series it is so so good, the series as a whole gets 5 stars no doubt, everything makes since and is resolved, It’s funny, it’s scary, gory and heart warming. Locke and Key is about real emotions and feeling personified. The last book was my third favorite book, it brought the shadow people back, and shows what the keys can do if someone evil is behind them. I rated Locke and Key Volume 6: Alpha and Omega by Joe Hill 5 out of 5 stars. I’m intrigued enough about Keyhouse to read the off shoot novels. I have recently finished the first season of the Netflix series and have a whole lot of thoughts on it. It’s different but also the same. I like how it ended with a great reveal and would love to see what they do with the second season of Locke and Key.

Book Review: Locke and Key Volume 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Art by Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke and Key Volume 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Art by Gabriel Rodriguez is the book that I have been waiting for finally getting a flashback to the past, one to colonial times where we get the origins of Keyhouse and the keys. There’s another flashback that will change everything you thought you knew about the villain, Zach/Dodge, and his origin. This book is easily my second favorite since the beginning. There’s a really good opening that had me hooked from the start. It wrapped up a lot of story lines and made complete sense. Stuff that was hinted at in the beginning got to become full circle. Almost every question I had was answered with great explanations.

Plot of Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume 1 – The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 – Bode finds a head key, that let’s you open your mind right up, so you and others can see what is inside of it. You can pick the parts out, you don’t want and even add knowledge, like books and information. The thoughts grow into living breathing manifestations that you can pick out of your Brain. Kinsey picked fear and sadness and placed them both in a bottle with a stopper, that sits on her vanity. We get to see the bad guy Dodge/Zach Wells/ The Woman in the Well’s manifestation and how dangerous it can be. the Manifestations can go into any mind as well and manipulate it. We find out that that is how the Woman in the Well got her powers back to reach the two killers in Washington. Zach kills an old teacher that remembered him from years back, and starts investigating Zach’s student file. Kinsey admits she has a crush on Tyler’s new best friend Zach, and he uses this to steal the mind key.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows Dodge only cares about two keys which he does not possess the Well key and the Black/Omega key, and creates a nightmare of shadows to torture Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode. The mom finally discovers the fix it key and figures out what it can do, which leads to disastrous results. When Sam died while going through the ghost door that he’s still a ghost, but the manipulation that dodge once had over him is gone, and he vows revenge. When the ghost form of Dodge talked and fought Sam, it revealed there is a key inside him. Kinsey is starting to fall out of Luke/Dodge/Zach’s influence, as she makes new friends who are a bit of outsiders that show her a link to her father.

Plot of Volume 4 Keys to the Kingdom: Dodge/Luke? Zach has became more vicious in his pursuit of keys, as he tortures the Locke family for the Omega key. There a key is in ghost Dodge is controlling him, we get to see the real Dodge for a second and he is very remorseful. There’s a lot more keys discovered. Dodge and Tyler get get’s recognized, sort of, Erin Voss thinks Tyler is his father and her former high school boyfriend as she is wheeled out of a mental health facility. Dodge doesn’t want her remembering anything and is determined to break into to the mental facility and erase them. Kinsey and Bode also want to talk to talk to her and see if she remembers the keys. Dodge breaks into the facility killing an orderly and open Erin’s head with the mind key, and he finds it empty except a monstrous image of Dodge. Before he can kill her or grab the memory Kinsey and Bode come in having him hide. With her head open they get a look at the almost empty head and realize this image is fresh, and then they find the body of the orderly. Looking at the monster they end up learning the features of the who the monster really is. Dodge, Kinsey’s boyfriend, gets close and she starts telling him what she knows of the Omega key. Dodge is closer than ever, then Kinsey wants to place her favorite in Dodge’s head which he can’t let her see knowing he is the real monster. This makes Kinsey get closer to Jamaal. Duncan’s boyfriend Mike wakes up from a coma and give s a description of Dodge who was in the middle of taking Duncan’s memories of him, when Mike chases him out of the house and gets hit by a car. The ghost of Sam is back, and he plots with someone in the Locke House about Dodge. Dodge’s identity starts to unravel as the Locke family starts paying attention their new friend of the family Zach/Dodge.

The Plot of Locke and Key Volume 5: Clockworks After the big shocking moment final moments of Locke and Key: Keys to the Kingdom, Tyler and Kinsey find the time lapse key, which allows them to se events of the past. We learned how Dodge turned evil, and how Mr. Locke and friends were involved, Duncan played a part in the change as well. We got to see how all the keys got used not for evil but for good. We found more about the well house how the well key works, which I think the last novel will rely on. We finally go to find out what the omega key unlocks and why Dodge would kill anyone to get to it.

What I Liked: The flashbacks are brilliant and reveal so much of the secrets that have been hinted at for so long. The madness is portrayed so well. The twist and turns are really great, and start on the first panel. The writing is really great one Joe Hill’s better dialogue moments. The art is incredible and very vivid. The gore is horrific, and applied with glee.

What I Disliked: there was one question that I had that went unanswered involving Dodge, but there’s one more book so maybe it will explain.

Recommendations: I can not recommend this series enough, it is so good!! This book in particular is one of my favorites. If you love horror with a gothic feel then this book is for you! I rated Locke and Key Volume 5: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Art by Gabriel Rodriguez 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Locke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Jill and art by Gabriel Rodriguez

Locke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Jill and art by Gabriel Rodriguez was the best story since the the first volume, but the art was one of the weakest. This volume has guest artist Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbs do an issue, which is great at first I felt it lost the seriousness the previous books had set. I will say this has one of the most fulfilling climaxes I read in a long time, where everything goes to hell all at once and things are not the same. There’s four keys in this one the strength key, animal key, flying key, and the race change key.

Plot of Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume 1 – The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 – Bode finds a head key, that let’s you open your mind right up, so you and others can see what is inside of it. You can pick the parts out, you don’t want and even add knowledge, like books and information. The thoughts grow into living breathing manifestations that you can pick out of your Brain. Kinsey picked fear and sadness and placed them both in a bottle with a stopper, that sits on her vanity. We get to see the bad guy Dodge/Zach Wells/ The Woman in the Well’s manifestation and how dangerous it can be. the Manifestations can go into any mind as well and manipulate it. We find out that that is how the Woman in the Well got her powers back to reach the two killers in Washington. Zach kills an old teacher that remembered him from years back, and starts investigating Zach’s student file. Kinsey admits she has a crush on Tyler’s new best friend Zach, and he uses this to steal the mind key.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows Dodge only cares about two keys which he does not possess the Well key and the Black/Omega key, and creates a nightmare of shadows to torture Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode. The mom finally discovers the fix it key and figures out what it can do, which leads to disastrous results. When Sam died while going through the ghost door that he’s still a ghost, but the manipulation that dodge once had over him is gone, and he vows revenge. When the ghost form of Dodge talked and fought Sam, it revealed there is a key inside him. Kinsey is starting to fall out of Luke/Dodge/Zach’s influence, as she makes new friends who are a bit of outsiders that show her a link to her father.

Plot of Volume 4 Keys to the Kingdom: Dodge/Luke? Zach has became more vicious in his pursuit of keys, as he tortures the Locke family for the Omega key. There a key is in ghost Dodge is controlling him, we get to see the real Dodge for a second and he is very remorseful. There’s a lot more keys discovered. Dodge and Tyler get get’s recognized, sort of, Erin Voss thinks Tyler is his father and her former high school boyfriend as she is wheeled out of a mental health facility. Dodge doesn’t want her remembering anything and is determined to break into to the mental facility and erase them. Kinsey and Bode also want to talk to talk to her and see if she remembers the keys. Dodge breaks into the facility killing an orderly and open Erin’s head with the mind key, and he finds it empty except a monstrous image of Dodge. Before he can kill her or grab the memory Kinsey and Bode come in having him hide. With her head open they get a look at the almost empty head and realize this image is fresh, and then they find the body of the orderly. Looking at the monster they end up learning the features of the who the monster really is. Dodge, Kinsey’s boyfriend, gets close and she starts telling him what she knows of the Omega key. Dodge is closer than ever, then Kinsey wants to place her favorite in Dodge’s head which he can’t let her see knowing he is the real monster. This makes Kinsey get closer to Jamaal. Duncan’s boyfriend Mike wakes up from a coma and give s a description of Dodge who was in the middle of taking Duncan’s memories of him, when Mike chases him out of the house and gets hit by a car. The ghost of Sam is back, and he plots with someone in the Locke House about Dodge. Dodge’s identity starts to unravel as the Locke family starts paying attention their new friend of the family Zach/Dodge.

What I Liked: The ending, So so freaking good! One of the most shocking endings so far in the series. We get to know a lot more about what the end game of Dodge’s plotting has been about. Dodge’s upper hand finally starts slipping when he underestimates a couple of characters. Rufus can see and talk to ghost. Tyler getting upset then putting on the strength key and bust some heads playing hockey. The animal key was interesting with what it could do.

What I Disliked: is the art, it goes comical, and it didn’t need to. They have this scene where these birds put on these little pilots goggles, which makes no sense. I like that fantastical things happen in the story but they’re all grounded by rules and this breaks the rules.

Recommendations: I recommend this series to adults that crave a good story with violence and some horror elements. The narrative is so good exploring elements of tragedy and loss, in a mature way while having fun with the horror element Never have a wanted to give a story 5 stars had to deduct one for the art. I rated Locke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Jill and art by Gabriel Rodriguez 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review :Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill art done by Gabriel Rodríguez

Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill art done by Gabriel Rodríguez This is a smaller story filled with a really long action piece and the rest is filled with long conversations. There are three keys discovered in this one, the giant key which makes you turn into a giant, the crown of shadows key, which has a key go into a crown which lets you control shadows, and the fix it key which can fix broken items in a cupboard, but can not fix the dead. The art has a lot of full page panels with lots of little details that are better than the story. The first two novels pieced a lot of the past together, this novel did not reflect on the past hardly at all.

Plot of Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume 1 – The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 – Bode finds a head key, that let’s you open your mind right up, so you and others can see what is inside of it. You can pick the parts out, you don’t want and even add knowledge, like books and information. The thoughts grow into living breathing manifestations that you can pick out of your Brain. Kinsey picked fear and sadness and placed them both in a bottle with a stopper, that sits on her vanity. We get to see the bad guy Dodge/Zach Wells/ The Woman in the Well’s manifestation and how dangerous it can be. the Manifestations can go into any mind as well and manipulate it. We find out that that is how the Woman in the Well got her powers back to reach the two killers in Washington. Zach kills an old teacher that remembered him from years back, and starts investigating Zach’s student file. Kinsey admits she has a crush on Tyler’s new best friend Zach, and he uses this to steal the mind key.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows Dodge only cares about two keys which he does not possess the Well key and the Black/Omega key, and creates a nightmare of shadows to torture Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode. The mom finally discovers the fix it key and figures out what it can do, which leads to disastrous results. When Sam died while going through the ghost door that he’s still a ghost, but the manipulation that dodge once had over him is gone, and he vows revenge. When the ghost form of Dodge talked and fought Sam, it revealed there is a key inside him. Kinsey is starting to fall out of Luke/Dodge/Zach’s influence, as she makes new friends who are a bit of outsiders that show her a link to her father.

What I Liked: That Sam has a backbone and stands up to dodge almost beating him and taking over his body as a ghost. The Art really shines in this novel over the others. The fix it key and the breakdown of the mom was powerful. The character of Scot Cavendish is one of my favorites, a great punk character. The heart break of the juggling scene. I liked and appreciated all the mom scenes even if they were so hard to read as she constantly makes bad choice after choice. The shadow key action was great leading to the Giant key showdown.

What I Disliked: There was no going back in the past and the writing suffered a little from it. The scenes were good but I felt the weakest story out of all the books in the series. The only thing that saves it is that the scenes matter but you don’t know that until the Volume 5.

Recommendations: This book is the weakest entry for me, in terms of story. The visuals are mind blowing in detail. This story is full of interesting conversation and some great action. I rated Locke and Key: Volume 3 Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill art done by Gabriel Rodríguez 4 out of 5 stars. I originally rated this 3 stars but upon rereading it I rated it four stars, I felt it added little substance to the plot but it added a lot, now that I know the full story.

Book Review: Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 by Joe Hill with Art done by Gabriel Rodríguez

Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 by Joe Hill with Art done by Gabriel Rodríguez is a graphic novel that will open minds literally. This is my second time through the series, now that I know the ending, it fun piecing it together knowing all the character’s pasts and knowing all the keys and where they are hidden. This series is super involved, I love Joe Hill and have read almost everything that he has written, the only thing that I have not are the off shoots of the Locke and Key series. This time I’m reading the books with my girlfriend, as I want to watch the new Netflix series called Locke and Key. Head Games is bloody, with a sense of dark humor, while dealing with complex issues like homosexuality, alcoholism, regret, and grief.

Plot of Locke and Key: Welcome to Lovecraft Volume 1 – The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

The Plot of Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 – Bode finds a head key, that let’s you open your mind right up, so you and others can see what is inside of it. You can pick the parts out, you don’t want and even add knowledge, like books and information. The thoughts grow into living breathing manifestations that you can pick out of your Brain. Kinsey picked fear and sadness and placed them both in a bottle with a stopper, that sits on her vanity. We get to see the bad guy Dodge/Zach Wells/ The Woman in the Well’s manifestation and how dangerous it can be. the Manifestations can go into any mind as well and manipulate it. We find out that that is how the Woman in the Well got her powers back to reach the two killers in Washington. Zach kills an old teacher that remembered him from years back, and starts investigating Zach’s student file. Kinsey admits she has a crush on Tyler’s new best friend Zach, and he uses this to steal the mind key.

What I Liked: The mind key, it is such a cool idea. Where it makes a key hole that opens up to your brain, allowing the user to pull out manifestation of a complex emotion. I the manifestation, its self can cause trouble it can fight back and go into another hosts head. I loved Tyler using the head key to try to impress a girl and it totally backfiring. The clever way that Foreigner’s song “Head Game” was worked in. What happened to the Ellie’s Mom. Duncan’s boyfriend and his no intimidation for being who he is. Rufus the character you feel the most sorry for living in the house with Zach, and the grandmother from hell.

What I Disliked: The flow was a little disjointed, we get a random flashback from a teacher who’s interracial wife drowns, and then he gets murdered later with rarely a mention of the wife who died earlier.

Recommendations: Locke and Key is one heck of a series from the mind of Joe Hill who blends horror and tragedy so seamlessly. The art is beautiful, and telling, sometimes Hill will not use words and let the art give you the emotions you should feel. I didn’t love this Head Games as much as the first one, which is hard to top in my opinion, but it is still a great Chapter to an amazing series. I rated Locke and Key: Head Games Volume 2 by Joe Hill with Art done by Gabriel Rodríguez 4 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Full Throttle by Joe Hill

Full Throttle by Joe Hill is comprised of 13 short stories, two are written with his dad Stephen King. Some stories are bone chilling tales of fright, while others give whimsical insight of the the unknown. All tales draw you in in some way, some let you go easily, while other try to hold you in a death grip and not let go. A couple of the the short stories are odes to his favorite authors like Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Lawerence Block, David Mitchell, and Stephen King. Out of the stories in this collection I was familiar with two, I read You are Released in Flight or Fright, which is a short story anthology about chilling tales involving flight, and I watched the Netflix original movie of the adaptation for In the Tall Grass which he wrote with Stephen King. Joe Hill has been one of my favorite others for quite some time I have read all his novels, short story collections, and all but two of his graphic novels. So I’m a bit of a super fan of his after finishing Full Throttle I already want another story of his roaming into by head. My favorites of Full Throttle are Faun, You Are Released, By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain, Late Returns, and All I Care About is You. I broke each short story down individually to give each a rating and tell a little bit of what it is about.

The Plots and Ratings:

Five Star Stories:

Late Returns is about a bookmobile operator’s job delivering and picking library books from the alive and sometimes the dead. This story is really pull you heart strings type story. As the dead in most cases are able to checkout one last book. A a reader who wouldn’t love this story. I love the thought of giving new writer’s to people that died long ago. Hill remarks that his greatest fear is not finishing a book before he dies.

Faun is a story that was so good I didn’t want it to end, I think this story could easily be expanded into a novel. Faun is about a group of hunters that want to hunt more than just animals. One hunter knows about a place where you can hunt your wildest dreams. Think if a gateway to Narnia opened up, instead of go on an adventure it was used as a hunting ground. I this story was a great mix of Narnia meets Cabin in the Woods. This was my favorite story, the ending felt a bit rushed, but there’s so much potential to expand.

All I Care About is You is a story set in the future, on a mediocre birthday of Iris who has just turned 16. She ends up paying for a robot’s companionship for one hour, who’s mission statement is I will only care about you. This story is manages to balance sweet and sinister. The story has a weird beginning that took a little while to get into, but the story wraps up with a great unexpected ending.

By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain a story where there little kids find a dead dinosaur, like Nessie of Loch Ness, on the beach of the lake. They are kids so no one believes them until it is too late. This story was fun, really good dialogue, capturing the kids voices. This story was the most heartfelt of the bunch, it drew its inspiration from Richard Matheson’s Silver Water and Ray Bradbury’s The Foghorn

You Are Released is story about what happens in the passenger plane when nuclear war starts. A great story that jumps back and forth between passengers and the cabin, each dealing with their fates the way they know how. The best is we see through the eyes of a young girl that doesn’t know the world is changing and the adults our acting so strangely.

In the Tall Grass with Stephen King is the scariest story of the bunch it plays well with the fear of the unknown. Becky and Cal are siblings that are driving across Kanas, to reach the west coast where Becky can give away the unplanned baby away. There trip is halted when they here cries from help from the tall grass, once they enter they. They can’t seem to find their way out. The images presented are brutal and my leave some sick. The short story is the first 25 minutes of the Netflix film. There is no Travis in the short story, only a mention. I enjoyed both, there was parts I liked in both film and short story I liked. Both end pretty tragically.

Dark Carousel is a tale of four friends haunted by the creatures of an old carousel. I do like that this story is connected to Charlie Manx from NOS4A2 that Christmasland donated a cat for the carousel. The story and characters are great without the horror element, but when the moment comes the story gets scary and brutal.

Four Star Stories:

Mums is about Jack a sort of prisoner at his father’s separatist commune, his mother attempts to free but she is set up to look like a bad mother. Jack doesn’t realize learning to build fertilizer bombs is uncommon. The story goes all over the place and makes you the reader question what you’re reading is real or is Jack crazy.

Throttle by Joe Hill and Stephen King is about a biker gang terrorized by a semi, it’s Duel for the next generation. It had a weird opening telling about what is happening now and in the past at roughly the same time. The story gets good when it is biker v. Semi. I did love the family dynamic to the plot. Throttle ad the funniest lines of two characters describing stench.

Wolverton Station is a story about an American businessman on a train in London that just happens to be occupied by werewolves. The story makes some Little Red Riding Hood comparisons, with the businessman’s nickname being the woodcutter. The descriptions of the carnage are gorishly detailed. There’s a big of class warfare that didn’t fit so well.

Twittering from the Circus of the Dead is a story in tweet format, where we get the perspective of a teenage girl as she goes with her younger brother and parents on a road trip through America. They do a stop over at the Circus of the Dead. The show is fear based with zombies interacting with performers and patrons, the family doesn’t know it but they’re going to be part of the show. This story has a great ending with a bit of a twist.

Three Star Story:

The Devil on the Staircase is a story child growing up and working on the stairs of Sulle Scale. He lives on top and there is 820 steps to get to bottom. One side entrance with a red door that is always locked, is said to be stairs to hell. The type setting having the words cascade in columns looking like stairs works, but the story is a bit lagging.

Two Star Story:

Thumbprints this story has been me least favorite so far. A story about a female PFC Officer who held prison and torture duty, has that past creep up on her as she is a civilian working as a bar tender years later. Did not really care for the main character. I could see where Hill was going with this one we are all prisoners of our own design, but it just didn’t work for me.

Recommendations: I love Joe Hill I recommend his work when ever I get the chance. So far I have not been letdown by him. Full Throttle I whole heartedly recommend for fans of the horror genre. The stories are varied and carefully chosen. For people interested in the process of writing Hill breaks down how he came up with each story and who influenced him. This collection had seven stories which were 5 stars, four that where 4 stars, one that was 3 stars, and one that was 2 stars. The 5’s have it. I rated Full Throttle 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill Art By Gabriel Rodriguez

Third Time Reading Locke & Key Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill, and my rating of 5 stars still stands. This book is incredible! I’m reading the series and this book in particular because of the new Locke & Key series Starts on February 7 2020 on Netflix. Having been a fan of this book series the screen adaptation has been long process 10 years ago Fox passed on the pilot, then Universal was trying to make it into a movie trilogy, and lastly Hulu had it and passed on the pilot where it came to Netflix where it is written by Carlton Cuse of Lost and Bate’s Motel . So after that long wait I’m super excited for this series, but let me tell you about the book I love. This graphic novel combines gothic horror with suspense and added fantastical elements. The book deals with loss in a mature and profound way. The keys in this book, open more than just doors, there’s key’s that can literally open your mind, change your gender, turn you into a ghost, and let you go anywhere where the is a door. Joe Hill is an auto buy author for me, whether it is novels, short stories, or graphic novels he delivers.

The Plot: The novel starts off with two teenagers showing up at the summer home in California with bloody weapons and bodies in the bed of a truck looking for Mr. Locke and whereabouts of keys. Mr and Mrs. Locke are home, with Mrs. Locke opening the door. They have three kids Tyler the oldest, Kinsey the middle, and Bode the youngest who are all at the neighbors lake, when the hear a gun shot in the direction of the house. The book jumps around from there showing the aftermath of the shooting and what happened after at the of funeral of one member of the Locke family. The novel shifts as the family what’s left of it move to Lovecraft, Massachusetts to live in the old family mansion called Keyhouse. The house is filled with rooms and secret keys that will open up doors that only the kids can use. Bode, the youngest, figures out the house and it’s many secrets, he tells the family but they just laugh him off. He is the key to the truth the family doesn’t see and he has found either an enemy of a friend who lives trapped in the well. The novel bounces back and forth showing how the rest of the family survived the first murder as they find the new secrets that connect the house to the incidents. The family finds out the threat has only just begun, as more mysteries arise.

What I Liked: The book looks at grief and loss in a very real way, how a wrong last word can destroy you. The book looks at victimhood and how it ties to depression. Lastly it looks at alcoholism, not shying away fro the truth. I love the art, I think this book does the best I’ve seen at showing familiar traits among family members. Bode the youngest is my favorite character, he has an over active imagination, and is precocious. The funniest moment is when Bode writes a report for school using artwork revealing the truth but every finds it disturbing. The keys are a really cool, and well thought out, the ghost key is my favorite.

What I Disliked: I would have waned to know more about how the echo work exactly, I can’t remember if that ever gets explained in further books. That’s all I can think of, which is rare, I just really love this book.

Recommendations: If you love horror with a good suspenseful story with lots of secrets, then this book is for you. The opening book is so good the series as a whole I have rated 4. 5 stars, with this book being a stand out. Having read the series, I can say it it is totally worth reading the series as you learn more secrets new ones come about. I might do a follow up when I watch the series next week. Locke & Key Vol.1: Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill I rated 5 out of 5 stars.

The trailer to the new Netflix series Locke and Key starting February 7th

Book Review: Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Man can Joe Hill write. These stories often didn’t go where I thought they were going to go, it’s great when you can just go where the novels take you.

Strange Weather is comprised of four short novels, Snapshot, Loaded, Aloft and Rain. Loaded and Snapshot were my favorite out of the four.

Snapshot I rate 4 stars, it’s about a camera that can steal your memories, and a crazed camera bent on that. This one felt the most Stephen King-ish (with Joe Hill being his son). It had an overweight protagonist and the Phoenician (or cameraman) is terrifying in dialog alone. This story is one that I really went with there was a point where I go okay where is this story taking me, other reviewers seemed bored of the long ending, but it does have an ending and it is beautiful.

Loaded I rate 5 stars, it’s amazing storytelling at it’s finest. The novel starts off as a vignette of peoples interaction with gun violence, then he connects all these stories in a master stroke. The Main character is Kellaway a mall cop with a thing for guns, only problem he’s not aloud to carry any. on the day of a mall shooting he stops with a gun, but not without casualties. Loaded has a lot of Shakespearian references with the lead character playing a hybrid of Iago and Claudius. This story seemed ripped from the headlines about gun violence. It doesn’t pick a side in the battle of for guns or against guns. The ending is so good, please don’t let anyone ruin it for you, I read that story two days ago and can not get it out of my mind.

Aloft I rated 2 stars, it was that story I connected with the least, and the ending didn’t really pull it together for me. Aubrey Griffen is set to skydive for his friend June who passed away with cancer, he is accompanied by June’s two brother and Harriet Aubrey crush who constantly keeps putting him in the friend zone Harriet and Aubrey are also accompanied with two instructors that are attached to their back. Aubrey gets cold feet and doesn’t want to jump after everyone else jumps the plane starts to have engine trouble and he jumps the instructor and Aubrey land hard on a cloud in the sky, he detaches from the instructor as he’s blown of the cloud with the chute. The cloud is magical and can read his mind making everything so he will be comfortable and not want to leave. This novel also has flashbacks about his relationship to June and Harriet which I enjoyed but it just didn’t connect for me the way it should have.

Rain I give 3 and a half stars, in the afterwords section he calls this story a spoof on his novel the Fireman, that’s why I did not like this one because it felt to similar that I had already read this novel, it does have some nice surprises and reveals to still give this such a high rating. Rain is about Colorado, being struck by a rain of crystal nails that impale everything they touch. Terrorist take blame, cult are formed, and relationships are torn. I like the relationships and biblical proportions, but then again that’s what I liked in The Fireman.

Joe Hill is one of my favorites, his stories rarely go where I think they will go and am constantly surprised how fast I can care for a character in his stories. I recommend this collection of stories for a fan of horror and just great storytelling especially Loaded, so good! for the whole novel I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.