Joyland was released in 2013 by Hard Case crime and honestly I was not in the least bit intrigued. Don’t get me wrong, I like crime a great deal as a genre (though my leanings tend toward the serial killer or gruesome kind) but, I dunno…something about King writing this or the tone of the copy surrounding it (and there was a lot) put me off.
Anyway, fast forward to a coupla months ago, I was browsing books in a charity shop, as you do, and I found a paperback. I have a habit of reading a little of the first page after reading the blurb in charity shops and I liked what I read, so I bought it. Picked it up from my to read a week or so later and finished in one big old gulp.
This is the story of Devin Jones, who has his heart mauled by his first love and ends up going to work at a pleasure park called Joyland – the irony is real. There he discovers a gruesome ghost story awaiting him and another, very much alive mystery in the forms of Ann and Mike Ross, a single mother and young son come to take the sea air because Mike has maybe three months to live.
This is a tightly written book, the story does meander back and forth but it all comes together and forms a picture like written origami. The ghost story, a grisly tale of obsession and murder, is woven through it all and Devin, our hapless protagonist, makes new friends, finds purpose in a life gone screaming off the tracks and discovers that he actually can move on, grow up and stop hurting.
This is Stephen King at his best, it reminded me of Salem’s Lot and Duma Key with its intelligent and moving exploration into the human heart. I would highly, highly recommend it.
You can buy this book in the UK here
And in the US here