We already reported back in April that Stephen King was going back to his horror thriller roots with a novel called Joyland, but this morning the relatively young publisher Hard Case Crime — established in 2004 — announced that it will be releasing it come June 2013. According to the official announcement, Joyland is set in a small-town North Carolina amusement park in the early ’70s. College student Devin Jones arrives to work as a carny but finds himself confronting the “legacy of a vicious murder” and the “fate of a dying child.” If there’s anything scarier than a murderous, dimension-hopping clown — It scarred me for life — it’s a small-town carny in any form.

Not only is King going retro with the content of his upcoming novel, he’s also sticking to a tried-and-true format. “I love crime, I love mysteries, and I love ghosts,” he said in the press release. “I also loved the paperbacks I grew up with as a kid, and for that reason, we’re going to hold off on e-publishing this one for the time being. Joyland will be coming out in paperback, and folks who want to read it will have to buy the actual book.”

Charles Ardai, editor of Hard Case Crime, promises a layered and textured story. “Joyland is a breathtaking, beautiful, heartbreaking book,” he said. “It’s a whodunit, it’s a carny novel, it’s a story about growing up and growing old, and about those who don’t get to do either because death comes for them before their time. Even the most hardboiled readers will find themselves moved. When I finished it, I sent a note saying, ‘Goddamn it, Steve, you made me cry.’ ”

What do you think, King fans? Are you chomping at the bit for both Joyland and Dr. Sleep, both planned for 2013? Does the description of Joyland already give you chills? Are you on board with the paperback-only release?

Follow Stephan on Twitter: @EWStephanLee

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