Joyland by Stephen King

Oh my word, what a story! I finished this thing in two days, which is rare for a Stephen King book because the man writes loooooong! This is just a beautiful, nostalgic coming-of-age mystery/drama that had me hooked from chapter one. I’ll break it down for you like this:

The nostalgia: The book is narrated by a hapless, heartbroken college kid who’s in that sweet pocket of time that I like to call “real world limbo.” It’s that point in time we all take for granted when we’re fresh out of high school, working minimum-wage jobs we don’t care about, and still enjoying those carefree days before the nine-to-five desk job dominates your life. Maybe that’s why this book really hit home for me. The main character, a temp summer carnival worker, and his fellow college friends are having their one last hurrah or as Stephen King says, “that last good time” before heading off into adulthood.

The main character: I loved Devin as well as his little circle of friends who took him under their wing. If anyone other than Stephen King created this character, he would probably come off as really annoying goody-two-shoes. He’s just that all-around good guy who works hard, loves his girlfriend with all his heart, and takes joy in doing the hokey pokey dance for little kiddos in a sweltering dog suit. Of course, he’s not all sunshine and roses because, with all Stephen King characters, he has some serious demons to conquer, mainly his inability to get over a traumatic breakup. Poor guy just needs all the hugs!

The supernatural element: Stephen King gave his horror fans a little something-something by adding a dark twist to the carnival’s horror house. Legend has it, the dark ride is truly haunted by the ghost of a murdered girl—and her killer is still on the loose! If I worked at this carnival, you better believe I’d be investigating this spooky business!

The murder mystery: Even though the murder mystery didn’t really get cooking until the last third of the book, I’m good with it. Have patience, my friends, and you’ll see the climactic surprise ending is certainly worth the wait. It’s a fun whodunnit that may or may not surprise you, depending on your sleuthing skills.

The love story: I promise, no spoilers, but I will say Devin did find love toward the end. He even befriends a little dying boy with supernatural gifts—a Stephen King trademark that I know and love!

This is one of those books that I was truly sad to put down. Here’s hoping Stephen King will write a spinoff one of these days!

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