What is it about?
It follows Devin Jones a student who takes a summer job at an amusement park called Joyland, here he makes friends with Tom and Erin Although they all fit in well, Devin seems to take to it the easiest, leading some long term workers to claim that he must have some ‘Carny’ in him. However, there is a dark history lurking there. A number of years prior to that summer a girl named Linda Grey was brutally murdered in the haunted house and the killer is still at large. In a nod to King’s earlier work ‘The Shining’ there are certain characters here with a psychic ability to tell the future and sense the dead. The first Devin encounters is the fortune teller who gives him a reading offering both a glimpse of his future and a warning. Intrigued by the murder Devin begins to investigate the events surrounding the event.
Along the way (as foretold by the fortune teller) he encounters a woman and a crippled son that watch him walk to work daily. A friendship with the boy begins against the mothers wishes, and his own personal problems soon become an integral part of the choices Devin is forced to make. All this, coupled with a broken heart, leads Devin on a personal journey of discovery.
What did I like?
Everything. Aside from the Dark Tower books this has to be the best King book I have read. It follows in the tradition of Hearts in Atlantis, The Body, and The Green Mile in allowing the reader to really care about what happens next. I have read other reviews that describe this a coming of age novel, but I really have to say that there is so much more to it than that. King has expertly blended the real life problems encountered by a boy growing up with a mystery even Agatha Christie would be proud of. I am far from an emotional person, but even I couldn’t help but be drawn into the storyline, and while I can’t say I was a gibbering wreck at the end of the novel I certainly felt myself filling up. That is a first for me. I don’t want to go into the story any more than I have as it unfolds so beautifully that any more information would spoil the enjoyment. The ending was just so wonderfully written it will stay with me for a long time to come.