Audiobook Review: “Joyland”
By Stephen King
Read by Michael Kelly
Published by AudioWorks / Simon & Schuster
Running time: Approx 7.5 hours
So, all I knew was that Stephen King had a new book out. I have been a fan of King’s ever since his book “Christine” came out back in 1983. That was the first Stephen King novel I read, and I was hooked ever since. I have read every book published and as soon as a new one comes out I HAVE to have it. Anymore I don’t bother reading what the book is about I just read it, or in this case, listen to it.
Looking back at the wide variety of Stephen King books you never really know what you are getting into. Sometimes it is a murder mystery, sometimes a fantasy about dragons, or an alternate world. King is known as the master of horror and that could lead to a really nice horror novel. Putting together clues from the cover of the book I deduced that this book must be some sort of murder mystery.
The book cover features a picture which closely resembles the art work on the covers from the Pulp-fiction / Crime Drama magazines from the middle of the 20th century. The book was originally published in paperback through “Hard Case Crime” which is an American imprint of hardboiled crime novels, just like the novel “The Colorado Kid.” So putting these together I deduced that it was going to be a crime novel that features that extra Stephen King twist, and it was.
Before I talk more about the book I have to praise Michael Kelly on his narration of the book. The book is presented as a first person point of view. That point of view comes from Devin Jones, a University of New Hampshire student who takes a summer job at Joyland in 1973. Michael Kelly perfectly captures the mood and psyche of Devin Jones as he starts out at the amusement park as a greenie and eventually attempts to solve a murder and brightens the life of a dying child. Kelly’s voice fits the voice of Devin Jones like a glove and makes this character come to life in this audiobook version.
As I stated, Devin Jones takes on a summer job at Joyland amusement park in North Carolina working with the “carnies” and “wearing the fur” Joyland talk for portraying Howie the Happy Hound, Joyland's mascot. Devin soon learns of the local urban legend of the ghost in the haunted haunted house in Joyland. A few years past a young girl was murdered in the horror house and the killer was never caught. Every so often the ghost of the girl appears to someone in the park.
Devin also learns from the park’s fortune teller that he will meet two children that summer. One is a girl with a red hat. The other is a boy with a dog. One of them has The Sight. So with a little bit of “The Shining” mixed in with a little bit of “The Colorado Kid,” Stephen King weaves a tale of murder, mystery and psychic powers in a way that only he can tell a story. This is a coming of age, human interest, horror, murder mystery that will have you laughing, crying and leaving the lights on at night.