Welcome to the Cephalopod Coffee House. The purpose of this little get together is to write about the best book you've read in the past month. The blog hop is hosted by The Armchair Squid, so please take a moment to pop over to his blog to say hi.
These days, I only get around to reading one book a month. I wanted to branch out and read something not written by Stephen King, but that didn't happen.
I decided to read Joyland after hearing an interview with Stephen King on Fresh Air. It was a very interesting interview and the way the novel was described hooked me. It really doesn’t take much to get me to read anything King writes, so I downloaded it and dove right in.
The story takes place in the summer and fall of 1973. The narrator, Devin Jones, tells the story of his time working at an amusement park in North Carolina. On his first day there, he is told the story of a young woman who went into the haunted house and never came out. Well, never came out alive. It is said that she haunts the place of her death. He is quickly entranced with the tale, and makes it his mission to see her ghost just once. Soon the obsession turns to finding her killer.
In the meantime, Devin is twenty-one years old and he has had his heart broken for the first time. He meets a boy who is slowly dying, and the boy’s mother won’t accept that fact. He makes new, life-long friends and learns that even the friendliest faces have a very unfriendly side.
Joyland was written especially for Hard Case Crime, which specializes in reprints of old pulp novels and new “hard boiled” crime novels. It is both a very Stephen King book, and a very un-Stephen King book. His characters with all their personality quirks and verbal tics are fully rendered, just as you would expect. A big plus is that the story is told in the first person which keeps the plot tightly focused, unlike some of his more ambitious tales. But it’s not scary, or gory or even unsettling (although, I suppose your threshold for unsettling may differ from mine). If you’re looking for murder clowns, and things that go bump in the night, you will leave sorely disappointed. If, by the cover, you are expecting some sort of pulpy murder mystery full of hard dames, and the PIs who lust after them, you are also in the wrong place. In the end, Joyland is a coming of age tale with a murder and a ghost thrown in to check the boxes, which (I feel) does the main plot a huge disservice.
The verdict: Joyland is a wonderful coming of age tale, not so wonderful horror or mystery. I wouldn't dissuade anyone from getting into it, but just be forewarned before going in.
Take a moment to check out the other participants below.