At the library the other day I saw a copy of IDW's Locke & Key. For those of you who don't know, the book is written by Joe Hill and features artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez. It's the story of a family who survive a major tragedy and move to a relative's house that has some special characteristics. At Keyhouse, there are certain keys (if you can find them) that will open certain doorways that lead to other places and states of being. Within the grounds of Keyhouse exists an entity that wants these keys and uses its influence to achieve its goals. This is where most of the action and drama come into play.
In the introduction, there is some discussion on how the writer, Joe Hill, is a brilliant young novelist in the genre and everything he touches is golden. Well, seeing as I thought the first few issues of the comic reprinted in the collection were pretty good and not absolutely astonishing, I took these comments with a grain of salt.
A few days later I was shopping at Indigo! and I noticed a collection of Hill's short stories called 20th Century Ghosts. It was on sale for $7.99 and Christopher Golden (one of my favourite genre writers) spoke incredibly highly of him and the work in the introduction. I thought if everyone seemed to be praising everything Joe Hill does, I might as well try out this short story collection and see where that leads me.
Well, I'll tell you where that leads me. I am now a huge fan of the work of Joe Hill. This guy is everything they say about him. I have yet to read his full-length novel, Heart-Shaped Box, but these short stories are superb. His expert handling of the genre is a refreshing surprise considering so many of his contemporaries (literary and cinematic) go for the jugular and try to give you as extreme an experience as possible while sacrificing mood, and story. Hill knows what it means to build to something and make the reader an active participant in his storytelling.
Finishing Locke & Key I was treated to some of the same surprises that I had seen in his short story work. I assumed that L&K was going to trade on the nasty bits with lots of killing and abuse and cruelty, but that's just not the case. There's a mood to it, a quality that feeds off of the darker points but also shows a lot of humour and sensitivity and I'm really looking forward to seeing where this story goes. I have another storyline to catch up on ("Head Games") and then I'll be up to date.
Oh, and if you haven't read his short story "Pop Art" then you must go out and do so now. You really, really must.