[Book & Adaptation Review] Locke & Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Graphic Novels Rating: DNF, but 4/5 in general

Adaptation Rating: 4/5

Locke & Key is a six volume graphic novel series, which has recently been turned into a Netflix series. The first season is live now, so prepare to binge watch!

In this dark and twisted series, we follow the Locke family. The father, Randell Locke, is killed by a deranged patient of his. Randell was a high school counselor and was greeted by a student with a gun at his home. Trauma hits the family hard and they move Randell’s childhood home in Lovecraft, the Keyhouse.

It isn’t long before the kids realize that they didn’t move into a normal house. Keyhouse is loaded with hidden keys that do magical things. As they explore their new home, they realize that there is a dangerous being trying to track down the keys and use them to complete their dark purpose.

Here’s the link to the first volume to get your started.

The Graphic Novels – Reviewed

I’m not usually a graphic novel fan, but sometimes after a long series or a lengthy novel, I like to jump into a graphic novel. I’m not sure how to review them since I’m not typically a g.n. reader, but I did love this series for a while.

I stopped after the third.

I decided to DNF (did not finish) the rest of the series because I couldn’t get into the plot anymore. It got old. They find keys. Something dramatic and scary happens. Then they find another key and it repeats. I just couldn’t force myself to read another one.

However, I really liked the graphics, the plot, the characters, and how dark the story was. This series did sequels right! The first book is supposed to end with all ties resolved. The plot of the first book is supposed to be done and then it opens up another plot for the next book to complete. The end of each volume does just that!

The illustrations were gorgeous and deep. Usually, I eat through graphic novels. These ones took me a while to read because I wanted to see everything that was happening. There’s a lot to see.

This series has a lot of blood, violence, and has a brutal plot. Not for the weak of heart.

Educator Note

These graphic novels are not for classroom use. At all. Nope. None. However, they’re amazing for you. As a teacher, sometimes you need to read something that’s not young adult or mid-grade. That doesn’t always mean you’re in the mood for a full-length adult novel.

This series would be perfect for breaks or weekend night reading sessions with wine.

Netflix Review

Kay, so I struggled with this at first. They changed so much and since I didn’t read the last three volumes, I’m not sure how well the series stuck with the main plot line. However, the pacing is ridiculous.


Dude. The first episode introduces a key that I didn’t know about, so they brought something from past the third volume to the first episode of the series. I went on a mini-rage session, venting to my very patient boyfriend.

After I took a couple of deep breaths, I decided to look at this series differently. I’m one of those people you do not want to go see an adaptation with because I will rage through the whole thing. I decided that I wouldn’t do that this time. This is partly because they already fucked it up within the first episode.

The pacing worsened from there. The plot line is all jumbled. It’s like the writers decided to put all of the keys from all volumes into the first season, while keeping the plot from the first volume. They shrugged and said, “We’ll make it work.” So, they had to reconstruct the plot around the keys they shouldn’t have introduced yet.

I’m thinking they took a legal pad and bullet pointed all of the main plot points, listed all of the keys, and then found a way to cut everything else.


They added characters and cut characters. The only characters that were in the graphic novels were the family members. All of the supporting characters were invented, unless these characters were from the fourth volume and on.

I don’t want to get into specifics because I’m not going to spoil the plot, but a lot of characters changed. I love many of the characters that were implemented into the Netflix adaptation, but I miss the characters from the books, too.

Things They Did Right

I loved the characters that were introduced, as I mentioned. I also loved the settings and how they stuck with the visual displays in the novels. I felt that Bode’s character was supposed to be a little more manic, but overall, I liked the casting.

The modernization was flawless. The original novels didn’t have a lot of technology or use of modern-day devices, but the series definitely did and added it to the plot line.

They set it up for a second season beautifully. They found a way to keep with the original plot, despite all of the character additions. Overall, the series was enjoyable.

Reasons for Ratings

I rated the graphic novels 4/5, despite my not finishing them because they were great books. I didn’t finish them because the plot lost me. However, the illustrations were amazing and the plot was beyond twisted. Great series for what I needed it for.

I rated the Netflix adaptation 4/5 as well because, despite my loathing with the pacing, the series was well put together. I’m not sure how believable the story is to someone who hasn’t read the graphic novels, but I enjoyed the adaptation. It sets up nicely for a second season, which I will definitely be watching.

Should You Read & Watch?

Yes! I think this series is definitely one that’s worth a read and watch. If you don’t want to read the graphic novels, the Netflix adaptation might seem a little out there, but it’s a good watch.

Locke & Key was originally published August 18, 2009 by IDW Publishing. Joe Hill specializes in horror fiction, having written Full ThrottleThe FiremanHeart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. Check out his website here.

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Hi, everyone! I have worked in the field of education since I was nineteen and have a passion for literature. I have five years of experience as a library media specialist (paraprofessional), 2 years as a substitute teacher, and I am currently a general education paraprofessional. I have a Bachelor's in Library Media and Science, which I intend to use to eventually become a youth services librarian. I'm a proud book nerd, writer, gamer, hiker, and baker.

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