Amazingly, Joe Hill is sticking to the high standard he set in the very first book of Locke & Key. Three books in, we circle back to see our very first baddie, the wonderfully named Sam Lesser.
Ah, Sam. How have you been? Is death treating you okay?
Kinsey is showing her steel now, and she has two adorable boys (fast-talking Scot Kavanaugh and “I’m not your ethnic sidekick” Jamal Saturday) who are both semi-secretly in love with her. And they go! To the drowning cave! Hooray!
The heart of the book, however, is with Nina in the final pages. Of all the characters, Nina moves me the most. She’s a hip and beautiful widow, a not-gonna-talk-about-it rape survivor, and an openly alcoholic mom. Joe Hill draws flaws with the grace of a master. The magic is rich, and the artwork is beautiful, but in the end this series is entirely character-driven.
Here’s a snippet:
NINA: [As she catches Kinsey going through her dresser drawers] I turned a blind eye to you tiptoeing into the house the other day after you went for a swim with those boys till almost dark. I can forgive you being a little wild. But not being a sneak.
KINSEY: That’s funny, Mom. I can forgive YOU for being suspicious and mean and angry all the time – after what you went through in Willits, you’ve earned it –
NINA: You don’t know anything about it.
KINSEY: — But I have a harder time forgiving you for being a shitty, irresponsible drunk. Waking Tyler up in the middle of the night to cry all over him. Like he isn’t dealing with a few things himself.
NINA: You mouthy little… I ought a –
KINSEY: Christ, you’ve already been drinking. I can smell it on your breath. At least you’re only driving YOURSELF. I can’t imagine you taking Bode in the car.
TYLER: [Appearing in the doorway] Go for a walk, Kinsey.
KINSEY: Or what? You going to drag me out? It’s my house too, Tyler, and you can’t scare me into –
TYLER: I know I can’t. That’s why I’m asking. Please. Be done here.
NINA: I don’t even know who you are anymore, Kinsey.
KINSEY: [Leaving] You got that right. You don’t know. You crash the car driving drunk, I’m not going to cry over it. I’m all cried out these days and you know what you’re doing. In theory.
TYLER: Christ. Will you. Get. Out?
Next panel: Mom, she didn’t mean –
NINA: [Leaning over the dresser, not looking at Tyler in the doorway.] She meant every word.
TYLER: You know…we’ve talked about what happened to Dad in Willits but we…we never talk about what happened to…
NINA: Will you leave me alone, Tyler? I need a second.
[The empty doorway behind her, Nina drinks.]