Don’t you just love that gorgeous cover artwork? It’s by the late great Glen Orbik and it makes me misty eyed for those wonderful dark crime novel book jackets from the 1960s and 70s, just enough flesh to catch the eye and make the juices quicken, especially as a hormone riddled adolescent.
Well that’s enough about me, but if the lovely people at Titan Books hadn’t sent me a review copy of this new illustrated edition Stephen King’s coming of age horror thriller Joyland, it would be right at the top of my list for Santa to slip under the Hothouse dungeon gate come the festering season.
In a nutshell Joyland tells the story of High School grad Devin Jones who takes a summer job at the Joyland amusement park in the summer of 1973. along the way he makes new friends, dresses as a dog, gets over a broken romance and investigates a murder at the park dating back to 1969. I have to admit its been a while since I have read any Stephen King, having overdosed myself quite badly in the 1980s and 90s, and I had forgotten what a great writer he is. Joyland does not have the massive in your face horror of earlier shockers like It, Carrie or The Tommyknockers, the story builds gradually, starting out as a ‘coming of age’ experience as Devin finds his feet in the adult, but alien world of the Carny folk, then layers on elements of noirish detective story with a dusting of the supernatural as the tale builds to a thrilling conclusion.
King has always managed the transition from youth to adulthood particularly well and the character of Devin and what he goes through proves to be no exception to this rule. As Scooby Doo teaches us the run-down amusement park is along with the High School campus the American Gothic’s Transylvanian castle, but King does not overdo the spookyness, there is just enough to maintain the right tension of skin crawl as the story progresses. Devin and all the other characters are well drawn and the novel on the whole is beautifully crafted.
And the big bonus is the illustrations. aside from the gorgeously evocative colour cover the book is punctuated by quite sublime black and white illustrations by Pat Kinsella, Robert McGinnis and Mark Summers.
A great read by a master craftsman with fabulous art work I give Joyland, the Illustrated Edition a big 666/666
Joyland, The Illustrated Edition was published by Hard Case Crime, an imprint of Titan Books on 23 October price £16.99