Head Games takes the strange, ghostly tale told in Welcome to Lovecraft and takes a hard left into even weirder territory. It's been six months or so since I read the first volume in the Locke & Key series, but it didn't take long at all to get sucked into the story and watch it pick up right where it left off.
The first volume introduced the three Locke children coming to terms with their father's murder at the hands of a disturbed teen, Sam Lesser, plus Sam hunting them down, and a menacing spirit named Dodge seeking escape from its prison at the bottom of a well. In this second volume, the serial killer (Sam Lesser) is dead, but Dodge is free and disguised as a new friend to the Locke children. An affable teen boy named Zach.
Zach's--or Dodge's--disguise isn't perfect, though. He's recognized by an elderly schoolteacher who knew the Locke kids' father and his best friend, Luke--a previous incarnation of Dodge. With me so far? Good, because sufficed to say the teacher doesn't live long enough to get the word out. In fact, most of this volume deals with Dodge playing a bit of cat and mouse with everyone who either clues in to him or at least suspects there is something amiss.
The youngest of the three Locke kids, Bodie, doesn't play quite so prominent a roll as he did in the first volume, aside from finally figuring out how the mysterious second key he found works. And when he finally figures out what the key opens ... well, minds are blown. To be more accurate, minds are opened. Literally. It's a pretty wild concept that changes the tone of the book entirely. Where Welcome to Lovecraft had a pretty damned dark current running throughout it, Head Games has a bit lighter, more fantastical approach.
The Locke kids are great characters to root for and the continuation of their stories works well, played against the development of Dodge as the villain. The incredibly brief look at their mother and her burgeoning drinking problem and detachment from everything felt like it should have been touched upon more. I guess that's prelude to the third volume and whatever consequences exist will come to bear then.
While the story doesn't lead to any huge confrontation at the end, it instead offers a lot of tiny revelations, which seems to all be buildup. More often than not, I'm disappointed by the middle part of a trilogy, but this time I just went with it and really walked away satisfied. I do, however, really want some crazy shit to go down in the third volume.