Reviewers are noting that – rather than the straightforward horror tale readers may be expecting – Stephen King's latest novel is a beautifully written coming-of-age story.
Stephen King’s latest novel “Joyland,” a book with a horror premise and an old-time, hard-boiled, dimestore-novel cover, has garnered rave reviews.
The novel was released on June 4 and follows Devin Jones, a 21-year-old suffering through a recent break-up who takes a job at a carnival for the summer and learns the story of a young woman who was murdered there, a mystery that was never solved.
At least, that's the plot summary circulated before the book’s publication. But reviewers say the book is much more the story of Devin growing up than it is a spooky tale.
Writer Niall Alexander, who reviewed the book for science fiction and fantasy publisher Tor’s website, declared that the book “is no horror novel, nor is the ‘hard-boiled crime fiction’ this imprint [Hard Case Crime] traffics in a particularly fitting description. What we have here is a coming of age tale, primarily; a beautiful book, warm and honest, about a boy becoming a man, and his tempered transformation really does pack a punch.”
Washington Post reviewer Bill Sheehan agreed that the emphasis is on how Devin changes.
“King has created a moving, immensely appealing coming-of-age tale that encompasses restless ghosts, serial murder, psychic phenomena and sexual initiation,” Sheehan wrote.
USA Today critic Brian Truitt said he valued the narrative of Devin growing up more than the ghost tale.