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Joyland by Stephen King

Stephen King is arguably America’s best storyteller.  His new ghost story/mystery, “Joyland” proves the point.

Joyland” is the perfect read for that summer vacation at the beach.  It’s a fast page-turner that almost anyone can enjoy because it has likeable characters, a plot that almost everyone can relate to from their own past, and the story is spun out in King’s best “round the campfire” style.

The story is told in the first person by a young man, Devin Jones, during his first  job away from home on his summer break from the University of New Hampshire.  He works as a carney at an old-fashioned amusement park right on the border between North and South Carolina.  The park saw a murder 5 years before that was never solved.  A young woman’s throat was slit while she was on the Horror House ride with a guy who was seen accompanying her throughout the park.  There were pictures, but the man’s disguise could have made him almost any young to middle-aged man.  Now the ghost of the dead girl is said to haunt the park.

During that summer, Devin saves two lives, loses his girl friend back home, makes a friend in an 11 year old boy with muscular dystrophy, loses his virginity to the mother of the sick boy, and, with one of his friends from the summer work at the park, he tries to solve the mystery of who killed the girl, Linda Gray.  Devin also receives help along the way from a couple of psychics.

Joyland” will appeal to readers of many genres and period pieces as it has elements of the romance, ghost story/paranormal, mystery, horror story, sick kid tear-jerker, and 70’s nostalgic story.  Anyone who has ever visited an old-time amusement park or the midway at a state fair; anyone who loved and lost during the college years; anyone who ever had a summer job during college; anyone who lived through the 70’s– will appreciate “Joyland.”  Devin is super-likable, as is Mike, the kid with MDA, his mom, and several of the characters Devin meets during his summer at the park.  Even the bad guy and the “carney from carney” curmudgeons that are introduced in this book are likeable (or at least entertaining)  in their own way.

A definite summer read.

Reviewed with a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

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