Book Review

JOYLAND by Stephen King

Rating: 4.5 / 5

The King Buddy Reads group on Instagram book for November was JOYLAND by Stephen King, a nice short read breaking from the King tradition of heavy arm workout tomes! This was my first time reading JOYLAND as it isn’t one I had actually heard of prior to seeing it on the buddy read list so I was excited to check it out this month!

JOYLAND begins in the summer of 1973 where 21 year old Devin takes his summer off from school to take up residence in North Carolina to work at the Joyland amusement park. It isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, cleaning up the messes left behind by kids, operating rides and dressing up in a heavy and hot Howie the Happy Hound costume to dance and prance to the little ones’ delight.

The Joyland Park has a history that isn’t all happy summer memories. In years past a woman was murdered in Joyland’s Horror House and the crime was never solved. It is said that her ghost still haunts the ride and Devin and some of his new carny friends are determined to investigate. Along the way he befriends a kid who is bound to his wheelchair by a dismal diagnosis, but possesses some special abilities which will help Devin out.

I really enjoyed JOYLAND a lot, though in some ways it felt different from a typical King novel. That may be in part that this one comes in at less than 300 pages! Also, this is published by Hard Case Crime imprint, as is COLORADO KID which had a similar feel. Still, much of it was very recognizable as King’s work and I did feel some crossovers with DEAD ZONE which kicks off with some fun at the county fair I believe.

This is a slow burn novel for sure, but I enjoyed the build up. The action picks up quite a bit toward the second half, but it never gets to be super high paced I wouldn’t say. The narrative comes from Devin in the future and we get snippets of his more mature thoughts as he looks back on his 21-year-old self and I appreciated that commentary when we got it.

I wouldn’t say this is one that is destined to be a favorite King novel for me, it is one I thoroughly enjoyed and I am for sure glad that I was able to read it this month!

3 thoughts on “JOYLAND by Stephen King”

    1. This is one I would recommend for someone who wants to try King, but isn’t big into horror. Definitely more about the characters’ stories. ________________________________


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