The novel is narrated by the 61-year-old Devin Jones, who looks back to his younger days, most notably when he was just 21 and the adventure he went on back in 1973. The then 21-year-old takes a job at the Joyland amusement park in Heaven’s Bay, North Carolina where he experiences a Summer he will never forget and one that still haunts him.
Throughout the novel, we hitch a ride following Devin’s life, from the unhinged days of his younger self, right up to his golden years. Joyland in itself is very much a murder mystery, and one that I found intriguing to the point that I couldn’t put the book down. Always a great sign of a good book, even if in parts it felt as if it was a little slow.
The story reveals that the amusement park, Joyland, is in-fact haunted by Linda Gray, who was murdered by a mysterious man in the park itself, and unfortunately for Devin, he confronts the vicious legacy that will haunt him for years to come.
Within his journey, Devin learns the Carny way of life including their “talk“, which may or may not be actual Carny language, but even King addresses this in a little note at the back of the novel. During Devin’s time in the park, he tries to forget about the girl who left him, makes some new friends and also uncovers some dark and disturbing secrets within the parks underbelly.
To put it simply, the book is a coming-of-age story, and a good one at that. The tension builds throughout as pieces of the puzzle are slowly put back together, but as I said, it is a little slow in parts, but if you’re willing to stay the course you will be pleasantly satisfied.
If you’re somewhat a fan of murder mysteries you may find it’s a little straightforward, but damn, its a story which keeps you glued to each turning page and one that you must stay the course for the climax and the revealing of the killer.
I enjoyed it, and considering I don’t read books all that often, it was an easy read which flowed very well, even if it was a little slow and prolonged, but all in all, I say check it out especially with the film being adapted for the big-screen.