Title: Welcome to Night Vale
Author: Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Series: Night Vale #1
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 42
(see below for breakdown)
From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves…no matter where we live.
Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.
Nineteen-year-old Night Vale pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is given a paper marked "King City" by a mysterious man in a tan jacket holding a deer skin suitcase. Everything about him and his paper unsettles her, especially the fact that she can’t seem to get the paper to leave her hand, and that no one who meets this man can remember anything about him. Jackie is determined to uncover the mystery of King City and the man in the tan jacket before she herself unravels.
Night Vale PTA treasurer Diane Crayton’s son, Josh, is moody and also a shape shifter. And lately Diane’s started to see her son’s father everywhere she goes, looking the same as the day he left years earlier, when they were both teenagers. Josh, looking different every time Diane sees him, shows a stronger and stronger interest in his estranged father, leading to a disaster Diane can see coming, even as she is helpless to prevent it.
Diane’s search to reconnect with her son and Jackie’s search for her former routine life collide as they find themselves coming back to two words: "King City". It is King City that holds the key to both of their mysteries, and their futures…if they can ever find it.
This review is going to seem rambling and confused and I think that is perfectly suited for this book. I finished it yesterday and I am still not very sure how exactly to put it all into words. I don’t know if anyone could quite describe how interesting and god damn beautifully weird this book is. It seems to be quite divisive on Goodreads even fans of the podcast seem to have mixed feelings.
This book is wonderfully bizarre. It is near impossible to describe as it really doesn’t have any logic too it. I really enjoyed the story telling. It has glimmers of Douglas Adam’s without the word play, focusing instead of the strange world building, curious oddities and fantastically identifiable characters. I will admit this is probably not for everyone. I really like the absurdism of it all but I think a good number of people would find it quite off putting. There is a unique form of logic about it all which makes is a fabulously fun read. It is a book that makes you work for the plot. You do need to decipher the story from behind the vail of odd and strange and that is something I really liked about it. Once you had all the bizarreness sorted in your mind it was as if the fog fell away into a really nice character driven story.
I really enjoyed the conversational tone of the narration of the two mysteries that form the meandering plot. It had a mix of purply philosophical prose with matter of fact statements at juxtaposition to it all. It again has that great shift from lulling you into a weird dream like state them snapping you back. Again this won’t be for everyone. It takes a lot of concentration. It really is a bit of an experience and it is so difficult to describe.
I haven’t listened to the podcast but after reading this I think I will have to start to get more from the world of Night Vale. I can imagine it us more fun with a full cast. This seems to be standalone from the podcast as we get full backstory, it the novels unique and strange way. It is confusing and disorientating and such a great read. I enjoyed it.