Joyland by Stephen King – Book Review

Hi everyone, here is my brief review of ‘Joyland’ by Stephen King. I haven’t written a book review since I was at college but I wanted to have a go, so please don’t expect anything amazing with this. Hope you enjoy!
I am pretty sure that we all know who Stephen King is. He seems to be the godfather of horror stories, known for his dark novels that inspired some riveting horror movies, such as It and Carrie. His 2013 novel, Joyland, is no exception to the rule. A mystery/crime novel set in a South Carolina amusement park in 1973, this story was bound to incorporate an element of terror and fear, and it does just that. However, considering the truly dark abhorrent nature of other novels by King, this is in my opinion more tame than some of his other works.
The synopsis reads as follows: “College student Devin Jones took the summer job at Joyland hoping to forget the girl who broke his heart. But he wound up facing something far more terrible: the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and dark truth about life – and what comes after- that would change his world forever.” Instantly, we are reminded of the basis of every King novel – death and darkness. We are also introduced to our protagonist Devin, who is hung up on the demise of his first taste of love. As the story begins, I was instantly reminded of the start of a stereotypical rom com, whereby the protagonist would try something out of their usual comfort zone to escape the memories of their first love and end up finding love in a truer form. However, our guy Devin is extremely heartbroken about losing his beloved Wendy Keegan, and throughout the novel we are reminded of it again and again and again. Although I think this element of the story is important to the plot as it’s a contributory reason to why Devin is at Joyland in the first place, I don’t think it really adds anything to the overall narrative by keep repeating it. I feel as though it makes the character of Devin come across of rather mundane and dull. Notwithstanding this, the synopsis certainly intrigues the reader and encompasses an element of mystery, encouraging you to really want to read the story.
After a descriptive start, the storyline really gets going when the character Emmalina Shoplaw, who’s name Devin describes as it being “hard not to picture a rosy-cheeked landlady out of a Charles Dickens novel”, tells the ‘ghost story’ of why the Horror House ride at Joyland is considered to be haunted, after the vicious and gory unsolved murder of a young woman on the ride a few years previously. The character of Rozzie Gold, aka ‘Madame Fortuna’ offers a further element of mystery and spookiness when her seemingly nonsense prophecies begin to come true. I definitely think that this helps to keep the reader compelled and interested in the plot and encourages you to attempt to figure out the mystery. I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly felt that the revelation of who the murderer is was rather shocking, but it makes total sense. It certainly brings that sense of “of course, why didn’t I think of that.” I really think that this revelation makes the book resonate in your mind and gives you the euphoric feeling when you finish a good book. This is certainly a reason why I like this book – the wow factor. King really conveys how ingenious he can be by cleverly playing with the mind of the reader. Despite this, I do think that after this revelation the story ends rather abruptly. There isn’t really much of a structured ending, and I think at it was quite odd to not have the opinions about the killer’s identity from notable characters such as Mrs Shoplaw, Tom and Erin especially after they were so essential in building the discovery of the murder and subsequent haunting. Another thing I disliked about the book was the fact that although this book is set in the summer of 1973, it seems to jump around between prior to that summer and to years after and the present day. As such I personally found that it was difficult to keep up with the story line at times.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book and it has made me really want to read some more of King’s work, and although there were certain aspects that I didn’t particularly like, I would really recommend this to anyone who enjoys a spooky sort of mystery story.

My rating: 3 of of 5 stars

Thank you for reading!

Michelle xx

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