Review: Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

wtnvnPublished by: Orbit
ISBN: 0356504832
ISBN 13: 9780356504834
Published: October 2015
Pages: 416
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Podcast Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

There are many things about Night Vale that faithful listeners (to the podcast that spawned all this), can repeat in the same tone and infliction. Cecil is a favourite, the radio host that describes all the weird things that are going on in this fictional desert town, located somewhere in America.

This is a small town of angels and a dog park, where the government reigns supreme and that all must heil the glow cloud… but mostly everyone listens to the romance between Cecil and Carlos, his scientist boyfriend (and relatively new to Night Vale, where there aren’t often new people, yet he’s been accepted warmly thanks to Cecil.)

This book, however, doesn’t follow Cecil as the podcast does (though he still narrates the audiobook). This instead is about Jackie, the pawn shop owner. She does everything in a very regimented way – that is, until, the mysterious tan-jacket man pays a visit and from here on, she can’t seem to drop the little piece of paper that says KING CITY on it.

We also have a shape shifting child causing grief for his mother (Diane), who starts to see her ex everywhere, coming to something of a loss of what to do next herself, until Diane and Jackie meet and together, try to unravel the mystery once and for all. A mystery in Night Vale surely must be so commonplace that any true mystery to them is better left alone, and yet, there they go.

Overall the novel works well. The plot keeps moving at a good pace and there’s the weird and quirky things we’ve come to love through the podcast, and it’s a brave step to make this an original plot away from Cecil and things already started in the podcast itself – and the smart choice. To make it identical or fix a plot from the podcast in here only to be left far, far behind in a year or two would be tricky and disappointing in the long run, to be sure. However, Cecil works for a reason. A side-plot of him could possibly have been kookier, or something set before we join them on the podcast (as I assumed this novel would be originally) could have been more interesting. At times I didn’t really care that deeply about Diane and/or Jackie. The writing style of the novel still mostly matched Cecil, but he wasn’t narrating. Some parts work much better as acted audio, rather than expecting the reader to keep up and put in half the work this time.

However, overall it works well and it’s good to have female characters of interest rather than a further male cast. Got to give a nod there, I suppose.

For listeners of the podcast, as this is more about these two rather than Cecil (who makes appearances, but little else), you don’t have to worry about being up-to-date with the current episodes. It helps if you know the usual cast of course so a listen to a few episodes at least would be of benefit, but other than that, jump right in.


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