I can’t remember the last time I read a book by Stephen King. I was a huge fan in my teens and 20s, but it’s probably been at least 20 years since I picked up one of his books. Recently, my daughter has started reading King, so when Joyland showed up in our shared digital library suggestions, I though, “Sure, why not.”
I wasn’t disappointed, which was a great relief to me. Joyland isn’t a horror story per se, and is really more of a ghost story than anything else. There are the usual King-universe elements, a youthful male protagonist (aka a King stand-in), a pretty girl, and a young boy with something akin to “the shine.” It was a perfect beach read, in that the story moved along quickly, with the breezy writing style that King is well known for. Which was perfect, because I read it on my vacation.
What really caught my eye in the book blurb was that the story takes place primarily in North Carolina, my home state, and a place entirely foreign to King, as far as I know. To be fair, Joyland could have taken place anywhere, and there weren’t any particular details that led me to believe that King had spent any time researching North Carolina beach towns. This was most obvious when the pretty young woman whom the main character meets, lives in a green “Victorian” house right on the beach. There are no Victorian houses on North Carolina beaches. None.
But anyway, the story takes place in and around Joyland, an amusement park, where college student Devin Jones has taken a Summer job in an effort to put some space between himself and his girlfriend who seems to be drifting away from him, much to his disappointment.
Jonesy, as he comes to be called by his co-workers learns carney talk, finds that he loves entertaining the rubes, as well as getting the history of the park, including the story of the violent murder of a young woman in the Horror House ride four years earlier. Some of the Joyland workers claim to have seen her ghost. Devin and two of his co-workers decide to try and solve the mystery of the murder at Joyland, after one of them sees the ghost himself. It’s a fun rollicking ride and I’ll admit I didn’t figure out who the killer was until pretty late into the story.
So, fun story, fast read, enjoyable time. King can still do it as far as I’m concerned, but it’s clear he’s never been to North Carolina.
Tagging this one “Home Something Home” for #cbr10bingo