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4.2 221
by Stephen King

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Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of




Set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, Joyland tells the story of the summer in which college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

"I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts. That combo made Hard Case Crime the perfect venue for this book, which is one of my favorites. I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book." – Stephen King

Editorial Reviews

Any new novel by Stephen King generates excitement. What makes this trade paperback original doubly exciting is that this full-length fiction set in 1973 has the feel of one of his horror classics. At the center of Joyland is Devin Jones, a 21-year-old college student whose summer job at a North Carolina amusement turns out to be an unanticipated extreme learning experience. While others his age are riding the Ferris wheel or reveling in the carny life, Devin becomes entangled in a four-year-old cold case homicide. A haunted, haunting coming-of-age novel that you won't forget. Pile it high; watch it fly.

The Washington Post - Bill Sheehan
…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.
Publishers Weekly
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)
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-17
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.
From the Publisher
"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 RR Martin

"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.” – Tor.com
 "This is a wonderful return to old school King." – 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

Product Details

Publication date:
Hard Case Crime
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine in 1947, the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. He made his first professional short story sale in 1967 to Startling Mystery Stories. In the fall of 1973, he began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co., accepted the novel Carrie for publication, providing him the means to leave teaching and write full-time. He has since published over 50 books and has become one of the world's most successful writers.

Stephen lives in Maine and Florida with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. They are regular contributors to a number of charities including many libraries and have been honored locally for their philanthropic activities.

Brief Biography

Bangor, Maine
Date of Birth:
September 21, 1947
Place of Birth:
Portland, Maine
B.S., University of Maine at Orono, 1970

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Joyland 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 221 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Stephen King fan. This new book has similarities to some of King's earliest horror writing. You can't go wrong with stories about carnies and King weaves a great story out of the carnie background. I won't give up any spoilers but there are plenty of twists and turns. If you like Stephen King novels, you'll like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow..one of the best writers of our time, and you two are whining about NOT wanting the paperback to read? If you read the synopses, he explains WHY he isn't releasing in e-form, So...you lose out on what is surely to be a great read, one you can then donate to a shelter, a homeless person, a hospital...well, just about anywhere? I for one, will buy it, read it, enjoy it...as I still enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands, and also enjoy  my Nook...it's called being flexible...Have a nice day =)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it! And if you are really a true Stephen King fan, you would read it on toilet paper if that's the only way it was released. I don't rate books on format, I rate them on content. If you want to read it, read it. If you don't, don't. But don't give a review based on format. That is not what reviews are for.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The fact that this book is not offered in "e-form" is irrelevant! Review the content of the book not the format! You guys sound like new-age posers of literature, and frankly it's disgusting to see individuals rate books so poorly due to the fact that it can't be read on an e-reader. This book sounds like a delightful summer read and I look forward to owning a hard copy of it :) 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book...you should use this rating chart for what it was meant for and that's to review how a book is and not to complain about things that don't have anything to do with the story in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know I'm violating the objective of this site, but these commentators missed the point, which was to offer a review of the book not grouse about the format. That's sour grapes from a couple of e-books snobs.
Amabe421 More than 1 year ago
*Actual rating is 3.5 stars. I have been a Stephen King fan for as long as I can remember and have read so many of his books and loved them. This book, though not as much of a thriller as I expected it to be, was fantastic! As the synopsis says, it was beautiful and heartbreaking. I loved learning Devin's story and listening to it all unfold. There are many side characters that play very important roles in his life. For once, I didn't figure out who the killer was until almost right before it's revealed and that's saying a lot for me. This isn't one of my favorites of his, but I did still really enjoy it. Normally this would be the part of the review where I talk about the main character, but since Devin is telling his story to us, I don't really know how to explain him. We basically are going along with him as he grows up, deals with love, loss, and heartbreak. Along with that we have a murder mystery, but though it really brings the story to where it's going, it's more in the background then you would think. I guess that Devin is the type of person I would be friends with. He cares about people in such a beautiful way, and even though he has suffered hurt and heartbreak, he is still a great person, and willing to extend his heart out to people again and again. There are a lot of secondary characters that I really grew to like. Annie and Mike being the ones that I liked most and had such an important part in this story. I also really loved Erin and Tom, Madam Fortuna, and in a weird way, Wendy. Wendy being Mike's first love who broke his heart. Mike was definitely my favorite though, and he worked his way into my heart the same way that he did to Devin. He really made the story for me and even managed to pull some emotion out of me. I listened to the audio version of this and I have to say that it was a great choice. The narrator was great at the different voices in a large cast of characters. I always knew who was supposed to be talking when. I thought he was also the perfect voice for Devin. I really felt as if he was telling me his story, not like someone was narrating it for him. I don't know if that makes sense, but I know what I mean. I could imagine sitting there having coffee and chatting with Devin as if he were a real person telling his story. It was easy to get wrapped up in the story and not want to stop. I loved that a lot of this story took part in an amusement park. It was fun to imagine the scenery and the things going on. Even though the story is centered around Joyland, I really more see it as a branch of the story. Mostly, I think it was about the beauty in love, life, and even death. I loved the friendships Devin formed. I loved the broken person he started as, and who he became. He was a strong person even if he didn't realize it himself. This wasn't really creepy or even that much of a thriller. It was just a beautifully told story with some tragic events. I really enjoyed it. * A copy of this audiobook was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.
mountainrose More than 1 year ago
Thank you Mr. King for forcing this Nook reader to buy a paper back. I forgot how much I still love the feel of an "old fashion" paper book in my hands. This is a great story and I feel sorry for those of you who refuse to buy anything other than an e-book
dsmCO More than 1 year ago
Awesome book. The story telling ability of King has never wavered. He has always written his best when young people are characters. The simplistic writing approach he uses allows the reader to totally immerse themselves in the narrative. And as for the "controversy" of having to buy the actual book: I buy all my Stephen King in physical format to fill my bookshelf. Everything else I read goes on my Nook. Books are meant to be read, enjoyed and passed on not matter if they are in digital or "real" form.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some people are really stupid giving the book 1star because it's not available on ebook. It's a great book whether they made it as ebook or not so why bring down the review ratings of the book if you didn't even read it? Only problem I have with the book is that it was too short!! I've only read a few of his older stuff but I've enjoyed all of Stephen King's latest novels. Under the Dome, 11/22/63, and now Joyland. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a good book, but far from his best. The characters are very solid. The twist at the end is very good. The problem I had with it was that there might have been too much character development and not enough drama at the end. Still it's another King must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent in print or electronic format... If you have not read the book you have no right to review a book. 
FrancescaFB More than 1 year ago
Stephen King is still at the top of his game, he is a gifted master storyteller. Joyland is captivating, thrilling and keeps you rivited at every turn. Joyland is very reminiscent of STAND BY ME, as it too has a brilliant narrative that flows like a symphony. King always delivers the most chilling ride possible. He is a true literary genius.
JULIANN1 More than 1 year ago
This gorgeous book is a pure gift. Just like the kite that stitches it together, it soars. I don't know how to thank Stephen King for his work over the years, and especially for this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! i think Stephen King is a great author. I love the way this book is worded thats what draws me in its so detailed and just all around well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by King. I couldn't put it down. A unique twist at the end. Definitly a must have for King fans.
MitzieMay More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It was engaging from page 1. The setting, an aging beachfront theme park, and the characters--carnies and locals alike--were beautifully drawn and intribuing. I will buy other HARD Case Crime series books. 
Jessica29IL More than 1 year ago
I have to agree with the other 1 star people who actually based there rating on the actual story and not on e-book format. I was expecting thrill, horror, mystery. This read more like a Nicholas Sparks novel. I wanted killer clowns or something. It's sad in some places but this is not thriller. Plus there were a lot of holes. Some stuff didn't make sense as to how they becams exposed. Usually I can put two and two together, but not this. And I don't mean that it was meant to, as in a mystery. I like Stephen King I do, but this could have been written better. If you want a love story then buy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll be honest, this is the first Stephen King book I've read. So I don't have anything to compare it to, unfortunately (in terms of other King novels). I was attracted to the "old school mystery novel" appeal this book had, but I must say I was sorely disappointed. I would not categorize this story as a mystery. 85% or more of this novel is simply about the main characters 21st year of life. That's it. There's BARELY any mystery or science fiction or suspense involved. Like I said, I've yet to read anything else by Stephen King, but from what I know of him as an author I expected way more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was not one of my favorites. I kept wondering when more action was going to start and it just didnt until the end.
Christian_Wolf More than 1 year ago
I have to admit this first. I haven't read many of Mr. Kings other books, the odd one here and there and of course I've seen the movies but I never fancied myself a Stephen King fan. I'm not sure why that is, maybe I just got caught up with other authors, no clue. I usually don't review books, heck I usually don't review anything. Joyland however has become my favorite book ever. It knocked Catcher In The Rye down 1 spot to number 2. Catcher In The Rye was the first book I ever read cover to cover. I hated reading in school, my grades showed that fact quite well. I'm 33 now and reading has become a passion of mine. It's so much better than the same TV show, with the same story, the same trash, the same boring "reality"  this or that. And it's books like Joyland that play out in my mind like a movie as I read them, better than actually staring at a screen. The way he wrote this made me feel like I grew up years before I really did and kind of made me wish I worked at Joyland, even if I had to wear the fur. Anyhow, I'll shut up now, but I'd just like to say Thank You Mr. King, great book!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed the story. Written in the style of the master, compelling and engaging to the point of never wanting to put it down. Brought me to tears on several occasions, in a good way, I guess. My only complaint it that King couldn't resist his liberal mindset and took a swipe at Dick Cheney, which pissed me off and once again reminded me that famous people should keep their damn politics the hell out of their craft. If King wasn't such a damn joy to read, I'd never spend a nickel on his work.
Liz_Winn More than 1 year ago
Joyland takes place in 1973 against the backdrop of a haunted amusement park, and chronicles Devon Jones&rsquo;s experiences working there during college. The story is comprised of several subplots: the legend of the girl murdered on the haunted house ride, Devon&rsquo;s friendship with a single mother whose young son is dying from muscular dystrophy, Devon's heartache over a breakup with his first girlfriend, and the bonds of comradery he forms with his fellow carny workers.<br /> <br /> Maybe my expectations were set too high because&mdash;I don&rsquo;t know, because King is supposed to be a master writer? In any case, as a Stephen King fan, I was pretty disappointed. While Joyland is more or less passable as a piece of fiction, it lacks the drama, tension, and psychological insight found in  many of King&rsquo;s earlier works. The creep factor is relatively low for a ghost story, and the characters felt underdeveloped and uninteresting. If you haven&rsquo;t read King&rsquo;s works before, don&rsquo;t start here. Try The Shining or &rsquo;Salem&rsquo;s Lot first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read a Stephen King book since Misery. I found this book to be good, but was wanting more of a dark/thriller. This book seemed like a cozy mystery to me. I wanted to ready about a dark spooky fair. :(
kmm More than 1 year ago
The one thing I've never said about a Stephen King book is that it's boring. This was slow moving and lacked any semblance of suspense until about the last 20 pages, but it was too little too late. I've relegated it to my pile of books that I give away.