‘Joyland’ by Stephen King is a novel about a boy’s time working at an amusement park. The back drop is a crime intertwined with supernatural elements, for example ghosts and psychics. However, the foreground of the novel is Devin Jones, a boy tormented by a broken heart who does not quite know where he stands in the world. During the course of the novel, Devin seeks to solve a murder while also helping a dying, young boy and developing himself as a person.
The novel is very well written and highly-addictive – I could not put it down. Personally, I found it was the characters’ stories that captivated my attention more than the actual mystery. Their internal battles and uphill climbs were relatable and emotional. It was easy to connect with them and cheer for them to come out on top. Each character, even the minor ones, was rounded and realistic. Many could be people you meet in real life. It was them that kept me engrossed.
But that is not to say the mystery element was bad. It was that which linked everyone in ‘Joyland’ and the ultimate reveal was shocking, but believable. Stephen King is known for his horror stories, and this one is not different. The truly terrifying thing is that the vast majority of the book could actually happen (with the odd slightly sceptical thing). Ultimately though, it is a story of growing up, friendship and loss.