…a moving, immensely appealing coming-of-age tale that encompasses restless ghosts, serial murder, psychic phenomena and sexual initiation…The melodramatic aspects of the story are great fun, but the real strength of
Joyland stems from King's ability to connect with his characters directly and viscerally. It's that emotional bond that marks the difference between books that merely entertain and books that matter in a fundamental way. With deceptive ease and astonishing regularity, King has been writing stories that matter for nearly 40 years. In Joyland, he has done it once again.
The Washington Post - Bill Sheehan
A haunted carnival funhouse gives a supernatural spin to events in Thriller Award–winner King’s period murder mystery with a heart. In the summer of 1973, 21-year-old college student Devin Jones takes a job at Joyland, a North Carolina amusement park. Almost immediately, a boardwalk fortune-teller warns that Devin has “a shadow” over him, and that his destiny is intertwined with that of terminally ill Mike Ross, a 10-year-old boy who has “the sight.” Shortly after Devin meets Mike, Mike makes a cryptic comment: “It’s not white.” This proves a vital clue when Devin begins investigating an unsolved murder committed four years before at the carnival’s Horror House, and quickly stumbles into more than he bargained for. King (The Colorado Kid) brings his usual finesse to this tale’s mystery elements, and makes Dev’s handling of them crucial to the novel’s bigger coming-of-age story, in which Dev adapts to the carny life and finds true romance. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (June)
Joyland is one of Stephen King’s best novels." - Horror Movie Reviews "This book is one of those thrills we come across every so often when least expected!" - Hellnotes " Joyland is one of Stephen King’s best novels" - Horror Movie Reviews "King saved the big scares for Dr. Sleep, but Joyland is ultimately superior." - Complex’s Best Books of 2013 "Set in a dying amusement park in the south, Joyland features a ghost and a serial killer, but the real heart of the novel is a coming of age story, one that took me vividly back to my own youth, working the rides at Uncle Milty's in Bayonne." - George R.R Martin " Joyland is full of nostalgia and some really sweet moments that had me tearing up. It's easy to forget that anything else is going on, you're so wrapped up in the lives of these characters. 4.5 out of 5 Stars (read it, read it now)" - Only The Best SciFi "This one’s a must for King fans and may also attract YA readers." – Library Journal "...period murder mystery with a heart...King brings his usual finesse to this tale’s mystery elements" – Publishers Weekly "...the book...features some of King's most graceful writing...ruminative, amused, digressive, marvelously unaffected, and finally, devastatingly sad." – Entertainment Weekly "An amusement park and murder figure into a coming-of-age tale in this miniature thriller with a hint of the supernatural." – Los Angeles Times “Undeniable…charm [and] aching nostalgia…[JOYLAND] reads like a heartfelt memoir and might be King’s gentlest book, a canny channeling of the inner peace one can find within outer tumult.” – Booklist "Wrapped in a gloriously pulpy cover, Joyland is a coming-of-age story set in 1973 at a North Carolina amusement park creepy! that's haunted by a murderer." – Time Magazine "Stephen King's carny-saturated Joyland evokes the ghosts of summers past literally." – New York Magazine “ Joyland, by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime, June). An old-school, pulpy paperback ghost story set in a North Carolina amusement park.” – Departures Magazine “King's latest thriller, a PG-13 pulp paperback crime novel takes place at a remote carny park where college kid Devin is desperate to see the ghost of a girl whose murderer might still be lurking around the hot dog stands.” – Cosmopolitan Magazine “ Joyland is a joy. A gem whatever its genre.” – "This is a wonderful return to old school King." – Tor.com " We Love This Book Joyland is a fantastic story. This is a compelling and yet oddly gentle tale of a young man experiencing the ache of heartbreak and the curve-balls life can throw at you." – Geek Native "From horror authority Stephen King comes some hard-boiled action, with all the elements of a good crime novel—including the early ’70s, southern secrets, carnivals, and a meddling college kid." – The Daily Muse "If you’re a King fan you may want to set this on your wishlist " – Bookmuch "This Joyland is not innocent, of course. Its retro thrills include an enticingly steamy cover, Hard Case Crime’s sensually tactile paperback format, and a cover line that asks, “Who Dares Enter the Funhouse of Fear?”" – New York Times “It’s good to have a book like this now – simple, sweet, and not a little scary – to remind us that among the prequels and sequels, the epics and the TV miniseries, Stephen King can still spin one hell of a little yarn.” “As usual, King slips in and out of genre effortlessly, but it’s gratifying that at the core of Joyland exists a story worthy of being called a Hard Case Crime.” “Misdirection and red herrings abound, delightfully, and the weather-ravaged denouement could play out as the conclusion to a Donald Westlake or Lawrence Block novel.” – FEARnet "Red meat for any Stephen King fan." – TalkStephenKing.com “This is a Stephen King novel that you can start on your vacation and actually finish before the flight home.” – Men’s Health, Selected By Amazon “A remarkable tour-de-force.” – Comic Book Resources "This is Stephen King at his emotional best." – Florida Times-Union “It is easy to connect with Devin as well as many of the secondary characters as King develops this descriptive, entertaining tale of personal growth and murder.” – Luxury Reading "Joyland is pretty much perfect in its pursuit of diversion." “This story of a broken heart, a summer job and a beach amusement park — infused with ghosts, killers and a boy with "the sight" — is lovingly streamlined. It starts strong, ends stronger. Sturdy finales are never a given with King, but this one, Constant Readers, will have you gasping and, ultimately, blinking back big fat tears." "The ultimate "beach" book from one of literature's slyest entertainers." – Tampa Bay Times “As you read the dialogue, the book becomes less a story about a summer’s mystery than a tale of entry into another, coexisting world, one with its own rules, codes, and language.” “The splashy and aggressively sexy packaging is the tip of the iceberg.” – LA Review of Books “[a] fun book with a touch of winter’s chill around the edges” Tor.com
Along with hair-raising plots and believable characters (whether innocent or demonic or somewhere in between), a strong sense of place is an essential quality of King's writing. In his second book for Hard Case Crime (after The Colorado Kid) the setting—an old-time amusement park on the North Carolina shore—easily earns its title billing. On a whim, Devon Jones, soon to be a University of New Hampshire senior, takes a summer job at the park and is quickly seduced by the carny atmosphere and the "we sell fun" motto. Soon he's speaking the lingo, operating the rides, and entertaining crowds of kids, troubled only by the waning interest of his college sweetheart, who's stayed behind in Boston. But as the weeks pass, Devon is pulled toward Joyland's darker side, finding more evidence that an unsolved murder victim's ghost still haunts the shadowy tunnels of the Horror House. VERDICT This one's a must for King fans and may also attract YA readers.—Nancy McNicol, Hamden P.L., CT
Great. First we have to be afraid of clowns. Now it's the guy who runs the Ferris wheel. Yes, clowns are scary, and so are carnies--and if you didn't have this red light in your mind already, it's never a good idea to climb (or ride) to great heights during a lightning storm. King ( Doctor Sleep, 2013, etc.) turns in a sturdy noir, with just a little of The Shining flickering at the edges, that's set not in the familiar confines of Maine (though his protagonist is from there) but down along the gloomy coastline of North Carolina, with places bearing such fitting names as Cape Fear and the Graveyard of the Atlantic. His heart newly broken, Devin (Dev, to pals) Jones has taken a summer job at a carnival called Joyland, run by an impossibly old man and haunted by more than a few ghosts. Dev takes a room with crusty Emmalina Shoplaw, "tall, fiftyish, flat-chested, and as pale as a frosted windowpane," who knows a few secrets. Hell, everyone except Dev knows a few secrets, though no one's quite put a finger on why so many young women have gone missing around Joyland. Leave it to Dev, an accidental detective, urged along by an eager Lois Lane--well, Erin Cook, anyway. As ever, King writes a lean sentence and a textured story, joining mystery to horror, always with an indignant sense of just how depraved people can be. The story is all the scarier, toward the end, not by the revelation of the bad guy but by his perfectly ordinary desires, even though Joyland is anything but an ordinary place. Even to the last page, though, the body count mounts. A satisfyingly warped yarn, kissing cousins of Blue Velvet. Readers may be inclined to stay off the Tilt-a-Whirl for a while after diving into these pages.