Breaking Down the Magical World of LOCKE & KEY

After years in production hell, IDW’s hit horror comic Locke & Key has finally made its way to our screens. Based on the beloved series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key follows the Locke family as they embark on a new life after a horrific tragedy. With the whole series on Netflix, we’re excited to start breaking down the spooky and magical world of the show.

In case you didn’t realize, this piece contains minor spoilers for the first two eps of Locke & Key!

The Locke Family
Two Locke children look at a key by a lamp


The heart of the show is the Locke family members, who move to the mysterious Keyhouse Manor after the brutal murder of their father during a home invasion. Though grieving matriarch Nina (Darby Stanchfield) plays a key role, the series truly centers on the three Locke children.

Tyler (Connor Jessop) is the eldest and most popular of the siblings; Kinsey (Emilia Jones) is the nervous middle child who can’t quite get over what happened to their dad; and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott) is the youngest and most directly connected to the magic of Keyhouse Manor.

The trio immediately realizes that something strange is going on in the centuries-old house. It seems to all be connected to their father, a mysterious set of keys, and the history of Keyhouse Manor itself.

Keyhouse Manor
A huge mansion stands ominously against the blue skies of maine


In the book, the sprawling manor is found in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. That may have been a bit on-the-nose for the show, so here we find it in the equally fictional Matheson, MA. A small East Coast beach town is the perfect setting for the strange house, which seems to hold many, many secrets. The first couple of episodes make clear that the magical keys are intrinsically connected to the house and its past.

We know that the Locke family’s now deceased dad once lived there and that he and his friends ruled the roost before a horrible tragedy befell them. Stranger still, he never told Nina or the children about the apparent drowning accident that took place in the caverns below the house. It’s established from the earliest moments of the series—in a twist on how readers find out in the books—that Sam Lesser, the young boy who killed the Locke patriarch, wanted to know about Keyhouse Manor and all of its secrets.

The Keys

A scary looking skull key is being reached for by a child's hand


The first key that the Locke children come across is one of the most powerful: the Anywhere Key. When sled it into the keyhole in any door, it can literally take you anywhere you can envision. In the book, it’s a source of major conflict.

The mysterious Lady in the Well gains control of this power far faster in the Netflix series than she does in the book, which seems to spell disaster for the Locke clan and the fate of the wider world. Just like in the comics, Netflix’s Well Lady first presents as a beautiful young women, who manages to escape her well-house prison by luring Bode to share the magic of the keys with her. Once she’s escaped, she begins to collect the mysterious objects using the so-called Anywhere Key to hop around the globe.

Next up is what we’re calling the “mystery mirror” key, as we haven’t quite been able to find a direct analog within the books. This is the key that Bode is told by a mysterious “echo” from the aforementioned well that he can use to see his dead dad. Sadly, it’s nothing more than a dastardly trick that leaves Nina and Tyler trapped inside of a horrifying mirror world. It’s unclear whether this key only works on the closet that we see them trapped in, or if it can transform any door into a nightmare maze.

a cover from Locke a& Key shows a child's head split into many parts


One of the most iconic creations from Locke & Key is the Head Key. We get a glimpse of it at the end of the second episode as Bode realizes that he can slip it into the back of his neck and open up the interior of his own mind. Tyler and Kinsey bear witness to this mind-bending moment, truly opening the Locke children up to the magic of Keyhouse.

In the comics, this is a massive part of the story, not only because it allows artist Rodriguez to show off some of his most incredible work. The key ends up defining much of Kinsey’s journey as she uses it to make a terrible decision and the kids realize that it might be the *cough* key *cough* to the past!

The final key we’ll discuss here is the Ghost Key, one of the most important treasures within Keyhouse Manor. This mystical artifact enables the user to walk through a specific door in the house and leave their corporeal form behind.

As the trailer teases, this will play a major role in Bode’s story as he takes possession of the key and leaves his body apparently dead on the floor. His sister Kinsey is less than happy when Bode flies off to explore, leaving the rest of his family to deal with the fallout.

The Rules
Kinsey and Bode Locke hide under a table


From what we’ve learned so far, there are plenty of rules and guidelines for magic and lore of Keyhouse. The most important one of all is that anyone who turns 18 will forget the magic that they experienced, meaning that kids are the only people who can interact with the magic in any tangible way.

We see an interesting example of this when Nina is pulled through the mirror by Bode and his key but immediately forgets once Tyler saves her. We’ll get to know more about how the keys were made, who made them, and what their original purpose was as we move further into the series.

You can watch the first season of Locke & Key on Netflix right now!

Feature Image: Netflix

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