By Stephen King

ISBN# 9781781162644

Author’s Website:

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

College student Devin Jones is ready for his summer to begin.  His girlfriend has been acting more and more distant, choosing to take a trip with her friend rather than to hang out with him.  Devin doesn’t know what to do with his spare time until he sees a help wanted ad for an amusement park, Joyland.  He gets the job and makes quick friends with a couple of his co-workers, Erin and Tom, who are staying at the same boarding house as him.

They learn that the Horror House ride in the park is believed to be haunted by a young girl that was murdered on the ride.  Her killer was never caught.  Erin and Dev decide to do some investigating of their own, but Tom wants nothing to do with it once he sees Linda’s ghost!

As summer ends, Dev decides to stay on at Joyland as Tom and Erin head back to their respective colleges.

Dev makes friends with a crippled little boy, Mike, and his mother, Annie.  Mike has the sight and knows things that his mother would rather keep from him and he is wise beyond his years.

However, when the Carny Killer comes calling once again, who will be there to answer the call and stop him once and for all?

This book wasn’t what I was expecting at all!  I thought this book would be a horror story, but instead it was more of a coming of age and self-discovery story for our hero, Dev.  He truly grew up in that one year as a carny at Joyland!  He had his heart broken, he learned how to become a man in several ways, there was the murder mystery, and even a little love in this book as well!

“When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”

I was a little thrown off by all the page breaks being little hearts thought, I was not anticipating that in a Stephen King novel!

I enjoyed the characters in this book, even the bad guy was fun and engaging.  I was able to figure out who the killer was as soon as one little detail was revealed.  It was late enough in the book that it didn’t take away from the story though and I had to keep reading to see if I was right!

The ending was pretty sad, and I would have liked to have gotten a little more of what happens after the tragedy strikes and how those left behind cope with it all.  Overall this was a decent read and better than I had expected it to be.

“All I can say is what you already know: some days are treasure. Not many, but I think in almost every life there are a few. That was one of mine, and when I’m blue — when life comes down on me and everything looks tawdry and cheap, the way Joyland Avenue did on a rainy day — I go back to it, if only to remind myself that life isn’t always a butcher’s game. Sometimes the prizes are real. Sometimes they are precious.”