Recent Reading: Locke & Key, Theft of Swords

While I would like to have personal content for every post, some days my brain just isn’t working well enough to assemble such a thing.  Fortunately, I can fall back on my recent reading and give some short reviews!

So here we go.

Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft

I’m a big graphic novels reader, and also a lover of fantasy and horror, so the idea of combining those elements always appeals to me.  Add to that the fact of Locke & Key being written by Joe Hill, son of Stephen King and an awesome horror writer in his own right, and I was really looking forward to this first entry in the Locke & Key series.

I was…kind of let down.

Maybe it’s because I’m used to graphic novels like Hellblazer and Preacher and other rather dark things.  (Side note: I recently read a couple volumes of the Saga of the Swamp Thing, wherein we first meet John Constantine.  Surprisingly good stuff, for how ridiculous I find the other DC material of the era to be.)  Maybe it’s because this story follows a bunch of kids rather than an adult.  Or maybe it was the art style, which really didn’t hook me.  I don’t know.  It certainly had its violent, threatening and supernatural elements and its hints at larger mysteries, but for something with the name Lovecraft in it, I found it surprisingly…non-eldritch.  And the only character I really bonded with was the sister, Kinsey, who plays a supporting role to her two brothers — the older one who incited part of the violent incident, and the younger one whose curiosity gets them in and out of deeper trouble.  The adults were pretty much nonentities.

I’m sure the series shapes up later, and a lot of people seem to like it, but from this first book, I don’t know that I’m interested in trying another.  This makes me sad, because I’m a great fan of Joe Hill, especially his short stories.

I gave it a 3 of 5 stars — interesting but not impressive.



Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan

In opposition to Locke & Key, I was not really expecting to enjoy this book.  I had read a review or two about it, and the reviewers pointed out aspects that made me do that kind of puckered lemon face, so I figured the actual book would make me do that too.  Still, many people were reading it and we had it on the library shelves, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I shouldn’t have made the lemon face, because I quite enjoyed it.  It just took me a while to realize that.

I won’t say that the issues other reviewers had with it weren’t there.  My personal quibble was the heavy-handedness with which we were fed information in the first sub-book (this larger book having originally been two smaller ones, which were mashed together for the official publication).  There is a monk character, Myron, who for a while serves to tell us everything about the past that we the reader need to know, and which the protagonists apparently didn’t despite having lived in this land their whole lives.  I just found it awkwardly-handled, and it felt like a disservice to Myron, who was otherwise quite interesting as a character.

However, once I got to the second sub-book, that issue evened out, and I started to get a better grasp of the two protagonists and see little traits being picked out, little hints being dropped.  The conspiracy of empire and the matter of the elves is interesting, as is Esrahaddon the wizard — and I like the fact of his disability.  We have two female characters as backup, which was nice even if they don’t get to do much; this seems very much a man’s world, but at least they have voices and are keeping an eye on their own affairs.

Overall, this book entertained me, though again it didn’t particularly impress me — except perhaps in the travelogues, because there was a lot of great scenery and movement-description, and I found myself going ‘dang, I wish my traveling was written so well’.

I will definitely read the second book eventually, but it has no immediate pull.  This is why I gave it a 3 of 5 on Goodreads, though I would give it a 3.5 if I could: 3 for the first half and 4 for the second.

About H. Anthe Davis

Worldbuilder. Self-published writer.
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5 Responses to Recent Reading: Locke & Key, Theft of Swords

  1. I’m also a huge fan of Hellblazer and Preacher, but Locke and Key still worked well for me. It certainly strikes a different balance, introducing more whimsy with the darkness, but I still enjoyed it. I haven’t got past the first volume yet, but I will read on at some point.

    Out of interest, which era of Hellblazer do you particularly like? I feel like it has a different tone with different writers, making it a bit tricky to compare anything with Hellblazer in general.

    • I’d pull out my volumes and check, but I lent them all to a friend recently, so now I have to strain my faulty memory. Also I tended to grab the trade paperbacks whenever I found them, so I didn’t read them in the official sequence. Checking a wiki, I think it was the Garth Ennis stuff mostly, though I have bits and pieces from almost all the eras.

      As a side opinion, Justice League Dark is terrible….so terrible….

      • I haven’t even touched Justice League Dark. It just seemed like a terribly mediocre idea. Like bringing Constantine back into the main DCU, in fact.

        I’ve also mostly read Hellblazer out of sequence in trades. I like a lot of Ennis’s work on it, among others, but one of the highlights for me is Brian Azarello’s run. His decision to take Constantine to America shouldn’t work, but actually it creates some stuff that’s dark and powerful even by Hellblazer standards. Well worth a look.

  2. Pauline Ross says:

    The Riyria books are quite entertaining. I found they got better as the series went on, although never mind-blowing. Just good honest fun.

    • I think what I liked most about this first set is how everyone just shrugged off Royce’s revealed heritage. ‘Oh yeah, we knew, no big deal’. Considering the rest of the world’s opinion on the matter, it was kind of sweet.

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