Thursday, June 23, 2016

Audiobook Review: Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Publisher: Audible Studios
Pub. Date: October 5th, 2015
Length: 13 hours, 26 minutes


Audie Award Finalist, Original Work, 2016 

Based on the best-selling, award-winning graphic novel series Locke & Key - written by acclaimed suspense novelist Joe Hill (NOS4A2, Horns) and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez - this multicast, fully dramatized audio production brings the images and words to life.

A brutal and tragic event drives the Locke family from their home in California to the relative safety of their ancestral estate in Lovecraft, Massachusetts, an old house with powerful keys and fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them. As siblings Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode Locke discover the secrets of the old house, they also find that it's home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all....

Featuring performances by Haley Joel Osment (Entourage, The Sixth Sense), Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black), Kate Mulgrew (Orange Is the New Black, Star Trek: Voyager), Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez, and Stephen King (The Stand, 11-22-63), as well as a cast of more than 50 voice actors, this audio production preserves the heart-stopping impact of the graphic novel's astounding artwork through the use of richly imagined sound design and a powerful original score.

*Locke & Key contains explicit language and adult situations.

What Did I Think About the Story?

This is hands down the best audiobook I have ever listened to! There is so much to praise about it that I'm sure I'm going to leave something out, but I'll do my best to fully express just how wonderful it was.

The audiobook version of Locke and Key is a wholly immersive experience, with a large cast of talented narrators that give distinction and gravitas to each character, orchestrated music tailored to the particular vibes of each scene, background noises of every kind - gravel scratching underfoot, squeaky doors, conversations and whispers, bangs, bumps and shrieks - so you feel you are experiencing the story, not just listening to it. Beyond the actual story, this kind of production value was something I've never experienced in an audiobook before and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be disappointed by just about anything I listened to next.

Now, to the story. It should be noted that there is quite a lot of violence and explicit language (which is noted above), but, for me, this wasn't a deterrent as it fit the characters and the often horrific situations they experienced. We have a lot of teenagers and troubled people dealing with murderous spirits....what else would you expect?!

I was completely fascinated by the magical keys and doors of  the Locke House...they did everything from turning people into ghosts, animals, and other sexes/races,  they made people bigger, gave them the ability to control shadows, manipulated memories, fixed things that were broken....and so much more! I am absolutely enamored by authors that can create and wrap the reader in such intricate and involved worlds and Joe Hill has mastered this ability in Locke and Key.

The other aspect of the story I really enjoyed was that, along with the ultra-cool yet sinister house and all its magical properties, it is also the story of a regular and, in many ways, relatable family. After the "brutal and tragic event" mentioned in the synopsis occurs, the grieving family moves back to the family home. The mother soothes her grief with alcohol and the two older teenage siblings are forced to care for their younger brother. The older siblings experience teen angst and struggle to find love and friendship among a new set of friends while the younger sibling struggles to be heard and valued by those that think he's too young to do much of anything. Now, who can't relate to at least some of that?

The scenes are broken up in short segments, divided up with foreboding music and a deep-voiced narrator that explains background information and sets up the next scene, which was very different from any other audiobook I've listened to before. I believe this was done to maintain the graphic novel formatting and, in the beginning, did take some getting used to, but once I did I really enjoyed this aspect as it made it easier to find natural stopping places whenever I had to (unwillingly) stop listening to get back to real life. There's also a steady thread of humor that runs through the heavier story, which did do something to break up the horror and sadness that was more prevalent.

The Locke and Key audiobook is so much more than just a story you can listen to - it's a fully immersive production that could rival any play or movie and unlike anything I've experienced before. I'm not sure if there are other audiobooks like this out there, but I really hope there are. If you're not easily offended or too squeamish this is a wonderful way to experience a story. I recommend it to anyone looking to become completely lost.

What Did I Think About the Cover?

Given how much goes on within the story, it's somewhat simplistic. I can't really wrap my head around what I would prefer as so many elements would work, but I probably would prefer something dealing with the house, the kids battling the many magical things they encounter, or the keys. However I believe this is meant to be the main demon they encounter, so it definitely fits the story. The way the title is constructed is perfect and the fact that it looks like a drawing from a graphic novel also fits the feel and structure of the story very well.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

I purchased a copy of the Audible audiobook version of Locke and Key for my own collection.  You can read more about it, other reviews, and find links to purchase on Goodreads HERE.


  1. This sounds like quite the production - the closest an audiobook has been to a movie with that starry cast?! I added it to my wishlist. Thanks, Colleen!

    1. It was sooooo good!! I hope you love it as much as I did!