“When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”
Joyland is whimsical, I don’t think I’ve ever described a Stephen King novel like this before. Does it have horror? Yes. Does it have a supernatural element? Yes. The novel’s main focus is taking us back to 1973 at small amusement park, and lead us through the life of Devin Jones who just broke up with the girl he thought he was going to marry and how he got over it. Which if you have read King he can do in his sleep. This novel is good but when I read King, I want great. This story is a little slower than most of his stories, instead of this novel hooking me, it just kept giving me nibbles, The ending is intense but it feels rushed.
The Plot: Devin Jones needed a summer job away from North Hampshire University, and he finds an ad calling for summer help at Joyland a run of the mill amusement park along the beach of North Carolina. Devin thinks he’s going to be doing custodial work but when he gets there is main duty is being the mascot Howie the Hound. While at the park he learns of a local legend a ghost that roams the haunted castle ride. The legend goes she was killed midway through the ride, by having her throat cut, and her body dumped out of the car and not noticed for some time, the killer got away. Devin decides to see for himself and invites two friends Tom and Ellen who also work at the park. Devin doesn’t see anything but Tom does and he’s shaken and scared. Devin and Ellen decide to look into the matter and see if there were other victims. There are and the clues lead to someone who either works at the park or who did in the past.
What I liked: The character’s are easily defined, and are all three dimensional. The mystery of the ghost is really exciting and gave me goosebumps, the ending is gripping and unputdownable. The era is defined really well. The Joyland park is described with so much love and fascination. The carney language is a great, you feel as if you have a secret handshake into the world. After the finale goes down there was a sweet little twist that I really enjoyed. The character of Mike was really special.
What I disliked: The filler, there’s a lot, it’s Stephen King he writes interesting filler, but I needed more teases to the mystery/ghost story. The finale feels so rushed, it’s great but it’s so fast, as it goes to intense. The flow is really slow. the novel is 180 pages coming of age and the last 100 is mystery and ghost story. I felt the ghost story ending was pretty weak and again it was rushed.
If you’re a Stephen King fan there’s just barely enough for me to recommend, this novel is way better than the other Hard Case Crime novel he wrote called The Colorado Kid. If your not a Stephen King fan then please start with another book, there’s many other’s better than this one. Stephen King is my favorite author, I admit I’m hard on him but he writes so good when he doesn’t I know he’s better than that. I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars.