For this year’s Locke and Key re-read, I decided to jump into Vol. 3, Crown of Shadows, without re-reading Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I expected to spend some time remembering details and getting back up to speed, but was instead surprised by how effortlessly I fell back into the story of the Locke family and the horrible, magical world that surrounds them.
By Vol. 3, the world of Locke and Key is just that: a world. It is a story inhabited by characters who have taken on lives of their own, who make choices only they would make, and (even in this “slower” volume) move the action forward while staying true to themselves.
Thus, when Kinsey makes the choice to find new friends, when Nina Locke succumbs to her demons, and when Tyler (finally) asserts that the Lockes are no longer going to run from ghosts and shadows – all those choices feel correct. But not a one of those “correct” choices makes the story predictable and, despite some victories, the Lockes are not out of danger yet. Dodge (or Zack, or the demon attached to him) has plans for Keyhouse and its keys. And by story’s end, the Lockes may have actually unwittingly moved Dodge closer to his (their?) goal.
The vignettes that bookend Crown of Shadows prove just how deep the world of Locke and Key has become. The Locke children barely feature in Vol. 3’s first and last stories, which instead focus on the murderous Sam Lesser and the still-broken Nina Locke. I have rarely felt as distraught for a fictional character as I did for Nina in this volume’s final chapter, when she mistakenly thinks her dead husband has returned to her. And I don’t think I’ve felt a set of characters’ confusion more than when Nina turns her husband around, only to find her son staring back at her. (It helps that Gabriel Rodriguez is a master of pacing, camera angles, and character acting.)
This year’s volume of Locke and Key is a pivotal one. It is the volume that allows the Locke children to finally assert some amount of control over the strange, horrifying world they’ve fallen into. With the Omega Key in hand, the Lockes are finally set to start shaping their own lives again – and maybe begin finding answers to the many questions that surround them.