Most readers-- even the most ardent of King's fans-- will agree that the man has a third act problem. I've read most of what he published before the 2010s, and some of his books are perennial favorites. Others, I like, but not the end. And some are just bad.
JOYLAND was honestly such a fun surprise because it's so different from a lot of what he publishes. This isn't really horror at all, although it has elements that are highly reminiscent of The Shining. Instead, it's more of a melancholy coming-of-age set in the 1970s, with some supernatural and romantic elements thrown in.
The hero, Devin, is SUCH a doll. Honestly, he's one of the best heroes I've read in a while that wasn't written by a female author trying to get me to fall in love with the guy as a love interest. He was just so sweet, and I loved him so much. Seeing the amusement park through his eyes, and seeing how much he genuinely enjoyed working there, really made this book feel larger-than-life and real.
I don't want to say too much else, but the last act was a little rushed. And I was expecting a little bit more of a climax than what I got. But I did like it. Everything was foreshadowed and fit neatly, and King summarized this story up in far fewer words than his books usually end up being. I think the reason I liked JOYLAND so much is because it feels like the grown-up version of the Point Horror novels I devoured so eagerly as a child. If you like that old skool, semi-cozy horror vibe, you'll probably devour this book just as eagerly, too.
4 out of 5 stars