Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel - Jeffrey Cranor, Joseph Fink

I should probably preface this review by saying that I am a long-term listener to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast, in which universe this book is set and which I recommend highly to pretty much anyone who'll stay still long enough to hear me enthuse about it. I also know from various interviews the authors have given, that their intention with this novel was to also make it accessible to people who weren't overly familiar with the premise and characters of that universe - that is, I think a strength but also a weakness as the overwhelming majority of the people reading this will probably already be fans.

 

Anyway, the novel of Welcome to Night Vale is the story of two women, though unsurprisingly their stories merge into the same one partway through - Jackie Fiero runs the pawn shop and seems to have been 19 years old forever, but can remember nothing of her childhood; Diane Crayton works for a local company and is worried by the sudden disappearance of one of her fellow workers and the fact no-one else can seem to remember him, along with the re-appearance of Troy, with whom she was once in a relationship.

 

Jackie's life is further complicated when a man in a tan jacket pawns a piece of paper with the words 'King City' on it, which Jackie then discovers she is unable to put down. Both separately and together, Jackie and Diane encounter most of the regular characters of the podcast as they try to find out just why this piece of paper is so important and what the hell is going on with people disappearing (not that this is uncommon for Night Vale as a whole). We even get a rather tense chapter set in Night Vale's library, when we get much more of a description of the dreaded librarians than the podcast has ever given us.

 

Anyway, I read the novel because I love the podcast and was quite happy to see pretty much all the regulars make an appearance, but still wonder what anyone not familiar with the whole set-up would make of it. I also felt that the book dragged a little towards the end, as if the authors were conscious of their ending coming a bit too quickly for their liking and felt as though they needed to delay it a little. I understand there's at least one more novel coming out, possibly next year, so I'll probably get that one from my local library like I did this...