Welcome to Night Vale
by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
One of the famous features of the WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE podcast is that the weather (always a song) interrupts the climax of the plot, meaning we see the lead up and hear the aftermath but rarely the conflict in the middle. It’s a device that works well on the podcast and it made me wonder how a book would work with our limited technology that does not allow a song to surge out from the paper at just the right moment.
Another thing I was worried (No. Not worried; concerned.) about was how it would feel to follow the characters of Night Vale without Cecil’s dulcet tones. The narrator is a huge part of the popularity of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast so it was unclear how it would carry across without his sinister enthusiasm.
Turns out neither of those worries (concerns) were rooted in reality, much like Night Vale itself.
Cecil makes an appearance between chapters, meaning the story never feels lacking his presence even if he is not directly embroiled in the drama. The story builds up and up without ever feeling deflated, and the aftermath is wonderful.
The story follows the separate and then not-so-separate lives of Diane and Jackie who become tied up in a mystery around an omnipresent man named Troy and, of course, the man with the deer-skin suitcase. As they both attempt to claw their way to some kind of sense in a nonsensical existence they grow and learn
Just like the podcast there are strange moments that make you want to crawl beneath your bed entwined with moments of poignancy which subtly shift the way you see your own world. If this seems too much for a silly drama about a time-confused town and its bizarre residents, you obviously haven’t been listening to the podcast. It’s the only fictional universe I’ve found that accurately represents that eerie, off-centre feeling of a bad dream and makes you enjoy it.
For those unlucky few who haven’t had the chance to listen to the WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE podcast, here is your chance to delve into the surreal world that has captured imaginations everywhere. If you are one of the many who has already discovered the podcast, the book is a wonderful companion piece. Either way you need to get this book.
Originally posted here on Goodreads.