Written by: Matt Molgaard
Brilliant, engrossing and completely addictive, Stephen King’s Joyland is the long awaited return to a vintage prose fans have clamored over too many years to count. Joyland marks a returned intimacy from King as he invests wondrous care in his focal characters. He utilizes a steady (certainly not slow burn) approach to introducing his key players, and the room he permits them to breathe is absolutely perfect, rendering them fully lifelike. Allowing this machine to function on personality, ache, perseverance and ultimately, growth… a heavy measure of maturity, pays immeasurable dividends.
Diving all too deep into the story isn’t truly a necessity (you absolutely have to read this). What you need to know is that Devin “Jonesy” Jones takes up a summer job at Joyland, a glorified carny that hosts a slew of run-of-the-mill rides and unique, memorable personalities – including a psychic and an upbeat veteran who helps ensure Devin’s got the hang of things all the while filling him in on the dark history that looms over Joyland. Death is no stranger to this little park, and the park’s ultimate culprit certainly seems to be the dreaded Horror House. Damn those creepy rides… they never amount to much in the way of positivity.
Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a heavily layered tale (Devin’s relationship unravels as highly significant subtext), with an assortment of stimulating revelations, but this is also one of those books that you’re forever going to regret if you don’t read it. It’s equal parts drama, thriller, horror and the challenge of coming of age. It is, in this one man’s opinion, the finest piece of work Stephen King has written in years. The throwback charm of 1973 is absolutely magnetic and the personal, very tangible angle in which King crafts this one far surpasses admirable. Joyland is a late resurgence for King (who never truly… fell off in any significant manner) who seems to have completely abandoned all desire to do anything other than tell a story that he personally loved. That passion seeps through every single page. Joyland feels like a novel that wrote itself, it’s that profoundly natural.
Joyland tugs at so many heartstrings the ole ticker might just erupt in amazement. And the constant rollercoaster we’re subjected to as readers leaves the mind unwaveringly ingrained. This is the first King novel (since Pet Sematary) to have my skin itching and my insides in knots. It’s an absolutely stunning piece of work that is guaranteed to have fans of King’s work drooling, and spreading the word amongst friends. You can completely count on that!
Joyland climbs right into my list of favorite Stephen King novels. To be honest, that’s one hell of an accomplishment.
Order the novel right here.