Unless you’ve been hiding in a mysteriously isolated desert town for the last few years, you’ll have at least have heard of Welcome to Night Vale; the creepy radio show-style podcast that tells creepy, Lovecraft-like stories. Over the various episodes, the show developed its own in-jokes, characters and setting. From the Mayor’s not-so-secret police, to the terrifying Librarians and mysterious Glow Cold monster (which sits on the School council), Night Vale has a legion of fans and the internet is filled with tributes and praise of the show so far.
So it is with some hesitation that we approached the Welcome to Night Vale novel. The podcast uses clever storytelling tricks and the smooth voice of Cecil Baldwin to have a real impact. Luckily, the novel proves that the crucial element to the show is Jospeh Finks’s writing. Because the book is really good.
Fink takes the opportunity to step outside the format of the show; for once we aren’t stuck in a mysterious radio station listening to one man slowly going insane. Instead we meet Jackie Fierro, a young pawn shop owner who acquires an unusual curse, and the Crayton family, who seem doomed to repeat the past. To dive into finer details would be to be to spoil it all; Night Vale is deliberately and methodically weird, and the strangeness leaks out on every page. This is an insight into trying to live normally in a reality that has gone horrifically wrong.
The result is a charming and dark work of horror. It’s also quite dense; Fink has packed this novel with every spare idea and thought he can muster, and a lot of it ties into the show. If you’re new to Night Vale you’re going to find this hard (but rewarding) work.
This novel is a shout-out to the fans as well as a treat for horror fans who like their books strange and challenging. Casual readers will find it tricky to get in to, but once you’ve got there you will find it very hard to leave. You may never do so.
WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE: A NOVEL / AUTHOR: JOSEPH FINK, JEFFREY CRANOR / PUBLISHER: ORBIT / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW