Title: Welcome to Night Vale
Author: Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor
Genre: Science-fiction, Humor
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Date published: October 20th, 2015
Format: Hard Cover
Page Count: 401
Time: 12 hours
Night Vale citizens are proud of how unusual they are. Whether it’s the secret police that listen and note down the citizens’ every word action, or the faceless old woman that quietly hides in everyone’s houses, or flamingos that function as an unpredictable time machine to the unlucky passerby who touches it, Nightvale is full of peculiarities and surprises.
What are more surreal than the circumstances surrounding Night Vale are its citizens.
The story begins with Jackie Fierro, the owner of Night Vale’s pawn shop. Jackie is 19 and has been running the Pawnshop for a very long time; this also means that she has been 19 for a very long time. Time doesn’t work linearly in Night Vale.
When a man with a tan jacket and a deer skinned briefcase comes in one day to pawn her a slip of paper with two simple words, “King City”, things begin going wrong. When Jackie picks up the paper, she’s no longer able to let go of it. She sets out to find that man, only to realize that she’s forgotten his name and what he looks like, and it seems that no one else remembers either.
Meanwhile, Diane Crayton, is a single mother trying to raise Josh, her 15-year-old son, who changes appearance constantly. Recently, she’s been seeing Josh’s father Troy pop up everywhere around Night Vale. The thing is, Troy has been gone for 15 years, and still looks as young as when they first met. When Josh takes an interest in finding out more about his estranged father, Diane Crayton sets out to find Troy before her son does.
These two characters’ stories run alongside each other until Diane and Jackie are left with the only clue to the only destination, “King City”. Searching for different things, they begin looking together for this mysterious city that is invisible to the world’s map.
From the start, I was very much thrown off by all the illogical circumstances that popped up in Night Vale. Everything made no sense, and nothing seemed at all conceivable. But the more I got into the book, the easier it became to accept Night Vale for what it is, unusual and nonsensical. Soon that sense of acceptance became an appreciation of all the quirks that Night Vale had.
The story was whimsical; all the aspects of Night Vale just draws you in, no matter how incredulous they seems. There were several subplots that ran alongside the main plot, giving reader’s a deeper glimpse of Night Vale and its even more peculiar residents.
Audiobook review: I don’t think this review can’t be complete without an appraisal of the audio book and Cecil Baldwin’s amazing ability to narrate. He has such a unique and almost auteur like voice with very distinct intonations and intentional rhythmic narration that marks his voice so different from the other narrators. It adds suspense and dramatizes the plot. There’s a paranormal element that’s ingrained in the story and whose nuanced presence can only be felt while listening to the audiobook. There’s also a satirical humor that is enforced through Baldwin’s iconic deadpans.
The music is eery and suspenseful and it feels like you’re listening to a movie soundtrack. Before picking up this audiobook, I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to check out the Night Vale podcast, but now I know for sure that it’ll be part of my weekly routine.