Journey into another world

Joyland - Stephen King

This book should come with a warning. Once you get past halfway, it gets increasingly difficult to stop reading. Other things get pushed back, like eating, sleeping, paying attention to the kids and getting anything done. Do not try to read just a little more before going to work!


One thing you can say for Stephen King, he does description well. Whether it's the setting or a character, he gets those mental images in place early in a story. I loved that skill in this story because an old fashioned amusement park has natural creepy overtones, even before you throw in a murder or a possible haunting.


The owner of the park and some of the key managers have a variety of experience in the amusement business. Some of them are what's called "carny from carny", second generation carnies that settled down to this stationary park for a few years, or in the case of the owner, for good.


King seems to have two different ways of telling a story. His Horror stories are usually written in third person, but this one fits in with his first person narratives that give the reader a feeling that they are being told a story in person by someone who might have been an ordinary person, but who has had some extraordinary experiences.


Would this story be classified as Horror? Maybe, because of the ghost. But that's not the main focus of the story. It's more a relation of the main character coming of age, surviving his first love, making choices for his life, having a few first experiences and finding his place in the world. A summer job in the amusement business has a significant effect on his journey of self discovery.


A little ghost hunting also plays a significant part, and I'm glad King didn't fall back on cliché and what you would expect to happen. As a matter of fact, he managed to surprise me pretty good in the end. There were some exciting moments towards the climax of the story, but a lot of interesting twists and turns along the way. I would highly recommend this as one of King's best works, but don't look for a lot of gore or a really scary ghost story.