Welcome to Night Vale – by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Reviewed by Chadwick H. Saxelid

If you listen to “Welcome to Night Vale”, you know people are not allowed in the Dog Park. You know dogs are not allowed in the Dog Park. You know, should you see a hooded figure in the Dog Park, to not look at or speak to it. You know these things, and so much more.

If you have not heard of “Welcome to Night Vale”, and do not know the above things, and so much more, let me tell you…

“Welcome to Night Vale” is a podcast set in the friendly little desert community of Night Vale. A place where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while everyone pretends to sleep.

This podcast can best be described as what might happen if Garrison Keillor decided to reboot A Prairie Home Companion, and called in Monty Python and the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft to help write it.

In the three years since its July 2012 debut, “Welcome to Night Vale” has only become more and more popular.  It goes on tour performing live shows in front of audiences in various states and countries across this great nation. (Nations like Svitz.)

This growing popularity, which shows zero signs of abating, has also given creators/writers, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the opportunity to write a standalone novel set in their bizarre little desert community. (Where visitors are warmly greeted with pointed fingers and screams of – “INTERLOPERS!”)

Fink and Cranor tell two stories that, over the course of 400 and some (very) odd pages, turn out to have more in common than not.

One is the story of perpetually nineteen year old pawnshop owner Jackie Fierro, who is searching for a way to get rid of a slip of paper she cannot get rid of, no matter how hard she tries.

The other is the tale of single mother Diane Crayton and her fifteen year old son, Josh. Josh is a shapeshifter that has become curious as to who his father is, and wants to meet him.

Fink and Cranor manage to fit all the existential dread, absurdist humor, and non-sequitur strangeness that make their podcast so addictive.  A great deal of the cast also shows up. I am certain most fans will enjoy reading this.

If you have not heard the show, I suggest giving it a listen before cracking this book open.