As a book lover, I often find myself completely immersed in a book, but rarely do I find a novel as enthralling and touching as I found Stephen King’s new murder mystery Joyland.

Joyland is the second instalment in King’s Hard Case series after The Colorado Kid (2005) but is not at all like its predecessor. For one, it’s written in the first person instead of the third, making it far more intimate. This story is also far more in depth and where I enjoyed The Colorado Kid, I was firmly grasped by Joyland.

The novel follows a period in twenty-one-year-old Devin Jones’s life as he uses his summer break from college to earn some money at an amusement park in North Caroline: Joyland. On the day of his interview and introduction to the park, Devin learns of a horrific crime that was committed at Joyland only four years prior and, as the summer rolls on, his curiosity begins to get the better of him.

Stephen King has this captivating way of telling a fantastic crime story, whilst building a life around the central character. Devin makes friends, gets his heart broken and meets many intriguing people during his time at Joyland, all the while with this chilling horror story playing in the background. There are no set chapters, only breaks in text marked by a small heart. The story dances backwards and forwards through time, forward to the present day when Jones is writing the novel and backwards to past conversations with his ex-girlfriend in the ’70s. This may sound chaotic but it isn’t at all; it just works. I’ll put it this way, at the beginning of the novel, I wasn’t fond of Devin at all, I found him misogynistic and rude, but by the end I really liked him and was so invested in the story, I cried.

Joyland is a prime example of Stephen King’s ability to simply tell a story and drag the reader, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the tale. He makes you see what the characters see, feel with them, remember their past and look to the future with them; even love them. The solution to the crime, the main subject of the novel, isn’t where it ends because the story has become more than that. When you close the book, it doesn’t end there; you’re still very much submerged in another fictional world playing out on the back of your eyelids.

In other words, I highly recommend this novel. In case you didn’t already know: Stephen King is quite a good writer.

by Nia Griffiths

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