In spring 1915, Chamberlin Locke locked the Shadow Key in the Vault of Shadows, along with several other keys, to prevent his son, John Locke, from using them as weapons to turn the tides of World War I. John was able to cleverly procure the keys however, and with the Shadow Key, he used it extensively during his service with the Allied. After fleeing back to Keyhouse Manor heavily wounded, John accidentally dropped the active Crown for Eric Murnau to find. Upon wearing it, Murnau learned about the magical keys from his own shadow.
In October 1927, Mary Locke collected the Shadow Key alongside several other Keys and weapons for her journey to Hell. After finding John's soul, Mary gave John the Shadow Key to activate the Crown, and summoned the shadows of all the demons in Hell to battle against Lucifer. Lucifer managed to incinerate the shadows using light, although Mary manages to escape with John's soul intact using the Moon Key. After the adventure, Fiddler's Green returns the Shadow Key to Keyhouse, along with the rest of the Lockes' keys and valuables, for Mary to find when she woke up.
The key was used by Rendell Locke to provide the special effects in "The Tempest", and then used it whilst exploring the Caves in 1988. After killing Mark Cho to get the Crown, Dodge used the shadows to incapacitate the remaining Tamers inside the Caves, only for the Clockwork Owl to snatch the Crown from him, causing the Cave to collapse and crushing Dodge in the rubble. After this, Rendell hid the key somewhere inside Keyhouse.
In 2011, Dodge accidentally found it in the basement inside a glass of jam with "Black Currents" written on it (a pun by Rendell to hint at its location). Dodge unlocked the Vault where the Crown was, and activated it using the key. He then summoned all the shadows of Keyhouse to ambush the Locke children, before merging with all the shadows and becoming a massive shadow. However, Tyler evened the playing field courtesy of the Giant Key, and took the fight with Dodge to the bay's waters, separating Dodge from the Shadow Key and its Crown.
The key and its Crown remained on top of the lighthouse for months. In May, Dodge in Bode's body retrieved the Crown and destroyed the lighthouse in the process. Dodge dispatched the key's shadows across Keyhouse's residence in his final attack on the Lockes: he captured and tortured many students lured in the Caves and slaughtering those who resisted, simultaneously attacking those who stayed behind to defend Keyhouse. However, Dodge's victory was undone when Erin's memories snatched the Crown and removed the key, stripping him of the shadows. The key was then collected by Tyler, along with the many other keys.
The Shadow Key opens the door to the Vault of Shadows. Once the key is used on the door, the key starts to glow like a candle (it does not appear to generate heat, however, as Dodge still used matches to light the candles inside the cave). By putting the key in the crown, it is activated. If the user then puts it on their head, all shadows around them including their own come to life in different shapes. It is unknown how the shadows gain the form they take, but it appears that the user's shadow gives a hint to his personality (for example Dodge having a wolf and Tyler, with Rendell, having centurions). The shadows may sometimes be reluctant, but are always faithful to the wearer.
If the user is skilled with the usage of the Crown, they can "wear" shadows and take on a certain shadow-like appearance. The user can also merge with the shadows to become a gigantic shadow entity, increasing their height, strength, and stamina.
- Main article: Crown of Shadows (Object)
The Vault of Shadows, located in the basement of Keyhouse, is a room that contains candles and the Crown of Shadows on a stone pillar. Wearing the shadow crown gives control of the shadows in Keyhouse. Sam Lesser has referred to this area as the Chamber of the Living Shadows.
The shadows brought to life by the crown seem to be unique to each person.
|Benjamin Locke||Mythological creatures, including Medusa, The Minotaur, goblins and others.|
|Ian Locke||Moon Wizard|
|Fiddler's Green||Tree giant|
|Lucifer and the Demons of Hell||Angel|
|Lucas Caravaggio/Zack Wells||Wolf, Dark Lady|
|Kinsey Locke||Kinsey's Fear|
|Bode Locke||Peter Pan|
Guide to the Known Keys entry
"O Wycked Night! Damn'd be Crais & Damn'd be the Redcoats & Damn'd be my own foole self. Miranda tis griev'sly hurt & lingers in the thaishold of deth! the Redcoats pursued her & the tatter'd remnants of Crais's companie into the caves but I drove them back wit the aide of the lyving shadows. If she dies I wouldst rather be a shadow myself than remain in thys diabollicall world, knowing she wouldst never have been at riske if not for me!"
- The Shadow Key is one of the few keys to possess an additional function unrelated to its own lock, that being that it activates the Crown, which can be used at anytime without having to be physically present inside the Vault.
- Israel Skelton, founder of Skelton Crew Studios (the company that makes the official license replicas of the Keys) stated in an interview that the Shadow Key was his favorite Key.
- Locke & Key: Guide to the Known Keys. November 23, 2011
- Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #1. August 26, 2020
- Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #2. October 7, 2020
- Locke & Key: ...In Pale Battalions Go... #3. December 16, 2020
- Locke & Key: Hell & Gone #2. September 28, 2021
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #3, "The Tamers of the Tempest". December 14, 2012
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #4, "The Whispering Iron". February 1, 2012
- Locke & Key: Clockworks #6, "Curtain". May 16, 2012
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #3, "Last Light". February 17, 2010
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #4, "Shadow Play". March 17, 2010
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #5, "Light of Day". April 28, 2010
- Locke & Key: Omega #1, "Our Regrets". November 14, 2012
- Locke & Key: Omega #5, "The Fall". June 5, 2013
- Locke & Key: Alpha #1, "Omega & Alpha", September 11, 2013
- Locke & Key: Alpha #2, "The End", December 18, 2013
- Locke & Key: Keys to the Kingdom #4, "Casualties". January 9, 2011
- Locke & Key: Grindhouse. August 29, 2012
- Locke & Key: Small World. November 23, 2011
- Locke & Key: Omega #3, "Last Dance". February 20, 2013
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #4 Variant cover
- Locke & Key: Crown of Shadows #1 Variant cover
- Locke & Key, Episode 10: Crown of Shadows
- IDW's LOCKE & KEY Comes To Life With Skelton Props