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Joyland (Hard Case Crime) Paperback – June 4, 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 4,433 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: What a smart, sweet, spooky, sexy gem of a story. In this one-off for the Hard Case Crime publishing imprint, King has found yet another outlet and format (print only, a zippy 280 pages) to suit his considerable talents. All are on full display here in the story of Devon Jones--"a twenty-one-year-old virgin with literary aspirations … and a broken heart"--who spends the summer of 1973 at Joyland amusement park in North Carolina. Devon makes new pals, proves himself to the hard-core carny workers, saves a girl’s life, befriends a dying boy (who has a secret gift), and falls for the boy’s protective, beautiful mother. The first half of the story is sweet and nostalgic, with modest hints of menace to come. (Think: “The Body,” King’s novella that became the film Stand By Me.) Devon learns to “sell fun” and “wear the fur” (carny-speak for dressing as Howie the Happy Hound, the park mascot), but he also learns about the woman who had been killed in the Funhouse, whose ghost still haunts Joyland. King has fun with the carny lingo--most of it researched and real, some of it invented. (The Ferris wheel, for example, is the chump-hoister.) The second half gets spookier, spinning into a full-on murder mystery--but also a love story, and a coming-of-age-story, with some supernatural fun woven in. More than a trifecta, this is King at his narrative and nostalgic best. A single-session tale to savor some summer afternoon. And then try not to keep thinking back on it. --Neal Thompson

From Booklist

As with King’s first release with Hard Case Crime (The Colorado Kid, 2005), this is an uncharacteristically svelte offering that feels born of a weekend whim but is nevertheless possessed with an undeniable offhand charm. In the summer of 1973, 21-year-old Devin stumbles into a job at a North Carolina amusement park called Joyland, where he operates rides, mops up vomit, and “wears the fur” (dressing up as park mascot Howie the Happy Hound to amuse the kiddies). Bittersweet interjections from an older Devin lend the story an aching nostalgia, and between the chummy carny-chatter (terms like gazoonies, fump, and donniker fly fast and furious) and meaningful first times (losing his virginity, a crushing breakup, etc.), a fantastical mystery gradually emerges. Devin befriends a dying 10-year-old whose psychic hunches help hunt down the murderer of the ghost girl who haunts the park’s Horror House. Until the ghoulish climax, this 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Small-press, paperback-only, yes, but King is still King. --Daniel Kraus

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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
4,433 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on June 25, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 23, 2018
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Top international reviews

Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Entirely under-rated King novel - King does coming of age like no other!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 26, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars just like the rest of us
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 21, 2016
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6 people found this helpful
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Dave
5.0 out of 5 stars King remains on form with this horror thriller
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 25, 2017
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Josh
2.0 out of 5 stars Joyland isn’t ranked with Stephen King’s best work. That accolade often belongs to The Stand
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 6, 2016
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RinkyDinky
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyland by Stephen King
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 10, 2015
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Farniboy
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Ghost/Detective Story! A Bitter Sweet Love Song To Long 70's summers!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 27, 2015
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William Gallimore-Tallen
4.0 out of 5 stars My first King read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2017
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Neasa MacErlean
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense and the sixth sense at the fairground
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 1, 2015
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Jl Adcock
4.0 out of 5 stars More compelling storytelling from the master
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 16, 2015
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rednoise
5.0 out of 5 stars A Return To Form
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 1, 2016
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E Griffith
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes you back to the early 70s.....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 19, 2015
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Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!!!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 6, 2019
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Wrennie Foxeyes
5.0 out of 5 stars The master story teller does it again
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2013
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edel
5.0 out of 5 stars ALL THE FUN OF THE FAIR
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 15, 2013
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Ian Patrick
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2017
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