A bizarre mash-up of A Prairie Home Companion and Twilight Zone with a mild thread of plot stringing things together, Welcome to Night Vale makes for a better podcast than novel.

From the book flap:

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.


The 5 stages of Welcome to Night Vale

  • Denial- Wait, this is based on a PODCAST? What?!
  • Anger– So, do I need to listen to the Podcast first? No way am I committing to a whole podcast series just to understand this book. Nope.
  • Bargaining– Okay, this is weird, but a good weird. I’ll do a few more chapters and see how I feel. Maybe I’ll check out one episode of the podcast. Just one.
  • Depression– This has gone from quirky to annoying. We get it, your town is slipping through the cracks of the space time continuum. Reality and fantasy are one in Night Vale. KING f-ing City! Am I going to have to listen to the entire podcast series? I have BOOKS to focus on.
  • Acceptance– Maybe it would have been better if I listened to the “#1 International Hit Podcast” first, but alas, I didn’t. Oh well.


Welcome to Night Vale is at its best when it completely abandons the plot and just lets itself meander through the Night Vale landscape. Basically, the podcast stuff works better than the novel elements.

Judge a Book by its Cover: The cover is what drew me into Night Vale. I couldn’t resist the slick graphics and the several shades of violet.

Audiobook Narration: I listened to the audiobook version of Welcome to Night Vale (duh, it’s based on a podcast). The audiobook narrator is the same as the podcast. Clearly this guy knows his way around audio narration.

Don’t Believe the Hype: You know when you’re in a group of people who have all kinds of inside jokes and someone says “Pineapple, pineapple!” and everyone is laughing except you and somebody looks at you and says “Inside joke. You had to be there”? Well, that was this book for me.

Open tab/Last call: The novel didn’t make me want a second round so I’m closing the tab on this one.

Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor, HarperCollins Publisher, October 20, 2015, Audiobook 12 hours 3 mins, 416 pages.