Published by Titan Books
Stephen King is well known in the horror world and has been producing prolific novels for several decades. Joyland is the story of 21-year-old Devin Jones, who takes a job at an amusement park in 1973. The Joyland amusement park in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina, seems like a tranquil escape for young Devin but turns out to be one hell of a ride instead. The novel unveils a summer of lost love and adventure for the young boy, but it is also the story of Devin as a 61-year-old man, who is narrating his own tale of younger days. We literally go on a journey with Devin from his youth until his golden years in one of the most curious books I have ever had the opportunity to pick up.
Joyland is a murder mystery, and Devin gets trapped within its thriller plot. There is more to this particular amusement park than meets the eye. The park boasts that its “Horror House” is actually haunted by Linda Gray, who was murdered there by a dark, mysterious man. Devin takes right up with the oddities of the park and the strange people within it, such as the psychic Rozzie Gold.
King’s writing throughout the entire book will keep you hooked and eagerly awaiting what happens next. Often when listening to 61-year-old Devin, we find that he is continuously getting sidetracked when telling the story, as he points out the strange language used by the carnies or coming into his own post-adolescent sexuality. Joyland paints a lucid picture of what amusement park life would have been like in the Seventies and does it in true American fashion. The characters of the book are plain corny and stereotypical. Devin even loses his virginity that summer to none other than a woman crafted after the well-known Mrs. Robinson.
The book is slow to start but builds up quickly. We basically spend most of our time watching Devin’s life unfold that summer and learning about the park’s employees before the real action starts. As we build up to the climax of the story, then the real terror and mystery starts to set in. Although Devin does finally uncover the identity of the killer, it seems a little prolonged and expected. Joyland is a straightforward story that is told from the perspective of an old and discerning man. Overall, it delivers everything that you would expect from a Stephen King novel and is a must buy for any horror or thriller fan.
3 1/2 out of 5