King writes place so well, and the eponymous amusement park situated on coastal Carolina is pitch perfect. He nails the authenticity of climate and the gentile mannerisms here (Mrs. Shoplaw reminds me of at least a half dozen southern women I know here in Florida), and I really enjoyed the carny speak. It's a ghost story with a little summer romance thrown in and a sad complication with a little boy and a terrible illness. Told in the first person, it's vintage King--think Bag of Bones with a much younger male protagonist and you're getting pretty close.
Even if the mystery is a bit telegraphed, it's still an example of really fine writing. King's voice is rich with humor and those keen observational insights that lead to a nuanced, well-rendered narrative. Nobody in fiction can quite break your heart the way King does, and you'll feel it here in the final pages as well.
King remains at the top of his game, not only for the narrative chops that lead to such clear examinations of the human condition, but also for the depth of variety he brings to the table. This is mostly a straight-ahead thriller, though there is a little speculative element in the ghost story. I'm hoping that Dr. Sleep is a return to horror with a harder edge, but even if it's a more atmospheric piece, as is the case with Joyland, it'll likely be a worthy follow-up to The Shining.