Joyland by Stephen King book review.
Despite being firmly fixed in most people’s minds as a horror writer, Stephen King is also a bestselling crime, fantasy and SF author. The themes within his work are more consistent, though: small town America, lasting friendships and the classic coming of age story are all recurring motifs.
College student Devin Jones takes a job at old-fashioned fairground Joyland in the summer of 1973, and is soon warned that its House Of Horrors really is haunted – a young woman was brutally murdered during the ride several years before. Through the summer and the autumn that follows, Devin comes to terms with heartbreak as his first girlfriend leaves him, and learns more about the spirit of Linda Grey – and her killer.
Joyland is a hard book to pigeonhole – it’s been published as a crime novel, and certainly has all the elements: murder, clues, a final confrontation with the (human) killer. But it’s not completely grounded in reality. Linda’s ghost is very real, as are the premonitions of Madama Fortuna and Mike Ross, a dying young boy.
Despite the grisly subject matter, this is one of King’s gentler books, more of a melancholy look at a young man’s last summer of innocence than a hard-nosed tale crime tale. Devin’s girlfriend is lacking in character, but it’s her loss rather than her presence that makes itself known, so that sole weak point doesn’t let down an engrossing and ultimately uplifting tale.
Rhian Drinkwater twitter.com/rhian82