From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
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.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
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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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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 (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.