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
I read Joyland a few months ago and being that King is one of my favorite authors, I thought this would be the perfect ‘kick-off’ review post for my new blog.
Joyland is hard case crime mainly set in an North Carolina amusement park in the early 1970’s. The protagonist is college student Devin Jones who lives with his father, his mother passed from cancer a few years ago. Devin takes a part-time summer job at Joyland in order to make some extra cash, but ends up staying full-time in order to forget the girl who broke his heart.
Devin learns the amusement part lingo, dresses up as the mascot and finds that he enjoys actually working at Joyland. This is an enchanted world for Devin, one where he feels he fits right into but the amusement park has a dark secret. A woman was murdered in a ride called Horror House and her ghost is said to haunt the ride. The murderer was never found but the woman who was killed can sometimes be seen during the ride at night.
Working at Joyland has brought some people into Devin’s life, like single mom Annie and her young and terminally ill son, Mike. The three become friends and it is revealed that Mike has the ‘sight’. Devin sets off on somewhat of an amateur sleuth mission in order to find out who murdered the woman who now haunts Horror House.
I found Joyland to be very mild on the scary factor, which I expected since it is a crime novel, not a horror story. Devin is a likeable character and I liked how King develops him. I enjoyed Annie and Mike’s storyline as well. King does a good job at setting everything up, the amusement park setting, the characters and the murder mystery all went together smoothly and made sense.
Having said that, while I enjoyed reading this one, I didn’t love it. It just didn’t catch my attention like I wanted it to. I think I would have liked to see more ghosts and things that go bump in the night to up the thrill factor. It’s okay though, I still love King and his fantastic storytelling.
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of Joyland (Hard Case Crime) by Stephen King.