Written by: Stephen King
Published: June 7th 2013
Paperback • 288pp • UK: £7.99 • ISBN: 9781781162644
Stephen King is back with a bang in time for summer, with the beautifully crafted Joyland — a coming of age tale set in an amusement park in 1973, with just a smattering of the supernatural.
He may be known as the ‘master of horror’, but King’s latest offering is much, much more than a tale of identifying a cut-throat killer who murdered his young victim in the aptly named Horror House.
The central character is 21-year old college student Devin Jones, who takes the job at Joyland in a bid to get over a broken heart. Told by the now 60-year old Devin, this retrospective story harks back to a period of time when carnivals were popular with the American public, and Pink Floyd and The Doors were the bands of choice for a college student mooching over his first love.
King paints such a vivid picture of ‘carny life’ that you can’t help but be transported into Devin’s world that fateful summer.
Yes there’s a ghost, yes there’s a murder to solve and yes there’s a sick kid who Devin befriends in the “best and worst” period of his life, but Joyland really does pack an emotional punch with a plot packed with colourful characters.
Published as part of the Hard Case Crime series, this is King’s second offering in the award-winning line of pulp-styled crime novels. His last title in the series, The Colorado Kid, sold nearly half a million copies.
As the author himself commented: “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 favourites.”
Like any good hard-boiled whodunnit, Joyland is peppered with red herrings when it comes to revealing the identiy of the murderer, and like any classic King story, the twist in the tale hits you like a smack in the face.
Joyland is King at his best. I’ve read mostly everything the master has written and I think it’s fair to say that sometimes the conclusions to his epic yards can be hit and miss (Under The Dome being a classic example of a fantastic book with a terrible ending).
At just 283 pages, Joyland is about the same length as one of King’s novellas. And as with one of his novellas, the ending is bittersweet, but perfect.
One word of warning for e-book readers: Joyland is, for now, only being released in paperback.
The long-awaited sequel to The Shining – entitled Doctor Sleep – is due out this autumn, so Joyland will keep all die-hard King fans satisfied until then.
4 out of 5 Nerds
Look out for a chance to win copies of Joyland this coming Monday (June 17th) here at Following the Nerd