Everyone was raving about Locke & Key so much I had to read it. I had not realized it was written by Stephen King’s son until I read the dedication and a little bit about the author. When I realized he had come out with this novel a few years ago I immediately ordered it from the library. This was before the election and my pledge to read fewer white dudes, so even though the book arrived at the library after the election, I decided to read it anyway.
Holy shit this book scared the crap out of me!
I’ll admit I ordered it without even knowing what it was about.
Turns out it’s about an ex-rock star (who’s given name is Justin but has gone by Judas/Jude for the past thirty years or so) who’s formed a niche in the Goth community and has a collection of weird and morbid paraphernalia. When he gets an email about someone selling the ghost of a family member, he impulsively buys it. The person promises to send a suit that belonged to the dearly departed, thinking the ghost is attached to the suit.
The suit arrives in a black, heart-shaped box, and sure enough, Jude starts seeing the ghost of an old man with a fedora and a pendulum with a razor-sharp blade he swings on the end of a chain. Jude tries not to make eye contact with him, but he can’t help himself and he sees that the man’s eyes are covered in black squiggles.
Unfortunately, this is not a benevolent ghost. He (Craddock) and his stepdaughter, who sold the suit to Jude, are both more than a little crazy and convinced that Jude was the reason Craddock’s other stepdaughter, Anne, committed suicide. Jude had been dating and living with Anne (whom he had always called Florida) for 8-9 months, but she was severely depressed and he reached a point where he couldn’t deal with it any more so he broke up with her and sent her back to live with her sister and stepfather. Shortly after that she slit her wrists in the bathtub.
Jude hadn’t even known she had killed herself until Anne’s sister told him. She also told him that her stepfather’s ghost was going to kill Jude and anyone who helps him to make him pay for what he did.
So Jude and his new girlfriend (Marybeth, but he calls her Georgia) start fighting this ghost that starts convincing them to hurt themselves and each other. They end up fleeing to Jude’s father’s farmhouse (with a few stops along the way), where his abusive father is in the process of dying very slowly. Craddock possesses Jude’s father’s dying body and uses it to attack Jude and Georgia in physical form. They end up defeating him with a little help from Anne’s spirit.
This is not my favorite genre and I quickly realized I could not read this book after dark. Even reading it in the late afternoon and then taking my dog for her evening walk in the dark made me jumpy. But it’s incredibly well written and I did enjoy reading it. If I had let it, it could have kept me up all night, both because I didn’t want to put it down and because it was so creepy. I thought the characterization was awesome and I’m not the biggest Stephen King fan, so I would even go so far as to say Hill is a better writer than his father.
What did you guys read this week? Anything else that kept you up all night?