Joyland, Stephen King

Sunday, August 25, 2013

King has tackled a lot of supernatural creatures over the years-mind readers, fire starters, vampires, werewolves, and really, really, REALLY creepy clowns.  But there is nothing he does as well as an old-fashioned ghost story.  He's written quite a few over the years (Bag of Bones being one of the better examples), and Joyland continues his tradition of creepy goodness!

Joyland is set in an amusement park, and the main character Devin comes there as a college student to work for a summer.  Heartbroken after losing his first love, he throws himself into the carny life.  While working at the park, he is drawn into a mystery-a young woman was killed on the haunted house ride.  People claim to have seen her ghost haunting the ride, and Devin's best friend has his own close encounter with the apparition.  Devin also befriends a dying boy who has the power to see things that most people can't see.  He tells Devin that the girl will not be at rest until her killer is found.  Devin is drawn into both the search for the murderer and a relationship with the boy's mother.

King does his usual masterful job of creating characters that almost leap right out of the pages into real life. There is a nostalgic feeling to the story, which is told as a long flashback from Devin's point of view, and which I've noticed in more of his books the older he's gotten.  King must have also done quite a bit of research into the world of carnies, which has its own culture and language. Like in many of his books, the character with a disability has some sort of special ability, which sadly does not keep them from tragedy.  As ghost stories go this one is less scary and more sad, given the circumstances of the girl's death.  As mysteries go it's pretty well done, with a noir feel that suited the setting perfectly.  On a scale of one to The Stand, I'd say this one is about an eight.  Easy to read, entertaining, and perfect for a lazy day at the beach, which is exactly where I read it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice to read your review --- I have a hold on this at the library, and am looking forward to cracking it open. :)


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