Devin Jones has taken a summer job at Joyland Amusement Park for the summer before entering college. He is hoping to forget Wendy, the girl who has broken up with him. Devin's father is sad to see him leave for the summer, being alone, but understands the need to find something to take Devin's mind off the girl. Devin is going to attend college in the fall, and this might be the best way to get over things.
Devin becomes very acclimated to Joyland and the "carny" way of life. He meets friends who also work there and are going to be attending college in the fall. We meet many characters during this time: the fortune teller, the ride masters, etc.
Devin becomes aware of a murder that took place in the Horror House many years ago and becomes intrigued by the fact that no one ever caught the perpetrator. A couple of his friends have also become interested, although their time is certainly not taken up with that. It is simply intriguing to them.
Every morning and evening as Devin is walking to work on the beach from the room that he rents, he walks by a young boy and his mother in a large green Victorian mansion that is right on the beach. He becomes friendly with the boy, Mike, and his dog, Milo. The mother is a little discerning in her behavior towards Devin. Mike is in a wheelchair and it is obvious that Annie, the mother, is aloof to strangers.
The story is not one that I would have thought of as a Stephen King novel, being a huge fan. This is really well written and involves you from the get-go. This just proves to me that this man can write anything.