… the mystery surrounding the 1970’s carnival circuit? Stephen King departs from his usual horror-novel fare with Joyland – a mystery wrapped in a coming-of-age story that is sure to be at the top of everyone’s summer reading list.
Devin Jones comes to work at Joyland during the summer of 1973, where he falls in love with the carny lifestyle. A good portion of the story recounts his day-to-day routine in rich, nostalgic detail, but there are two main story threads that tie everything together: the legacy of a vicious murder that haunts the Tunnel of Terror and the fate of a dying child that Devin meets at the end of the summer. To give away more of the plot would mean giving away too much of the story, and at just under 300 pages, story is at a premium.
I’ll be honest – when I first heard about Joyland, I expected a much more horrific story…in my head, I was picturing a John Wayne Gacy-type of mystery, with a murderer who poses as a carnival clown. But this is a fantastic novel for people who still expect Stephen King to only write horror. The mystery is well-plotted, the ghost story is subtle yet haunting (pun partially intended!), and the coming-of-age story is as well written as anything King has ever published. And it’s an extremely fast read…I read the majority of it in 24 hours on the last leg of a family road trip.
Stephen King may be the King of Horror, but the publishing world really needs to alter this perception… Joyland proves that Stephen King should really be considered the King of Storytelling.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)