Release Date: June 4, 2013
Published by: Hard Case Crime
Page Count: 288 pages
Source: Provided by publisher
Author Links: Website | Amazon
Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.
"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book." – Stephen King
This was my first experience with Stephen King, the author known as the master of horror, and what I found wasn't quite what I was expecting.
I enjoyed King's writing style and easily flew through this novel in very little time. His character, Devin Jones, was easy to relate to and the carny atmosphere where he spends his time was one of the most appealing aspects of the story.
Devin is a young college student starting a new chapter in his life. He spends the summer of '73 making a place for himself at Joyland, an amusement park in a small town called Heaven's Bay. He's learning to speak the carny lingo and excelling in his role as the park's furry mascot, Howie the Happy Hound. He's also developing long-lasting friendships and has experiences that largely impact his life. And all of this occurs during a time when he's suffering through his first real heartbreak.
There are several enjoyable characters featured throughout this novel, but the young boy that enters Devin's life is by far the most captivating. He plays a very meaningful role in the story, but there is a long wait before he eventually makes his appearance.
The actual mystery of this Hard Case Crime novel takes a back seat to the development of Devin Jones' character and the changes and transitions taking place in his life. The ghost in the haunted house is occasionally mentioned, but it isn't until much later in the story that any real effort is placed in to searching for the killer responsible for her wandering soul. The ghost ends up feeling like an insignificant part of the story at times, an afterthought really, until well after the halfway point.
If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, then I would highly suggest reading King's latest novel. If you're looking for suspense and an intriguing mystery, then I would suggest looking elsewhere.