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Based in the town of Night Vale, of the super popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast, here we have a novelisation of some of the weird stuff that happens to some of the other characters of this strange desert community. We are introduced to some familiar character, like John, you know, the farmer? And Old Woman Josie, with her winged guardians that definitely aren’t illegal Angels.

Be warned, there may be some illegal discussions about the existence of mountains.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

From the creators of the wildly popular Welcome to Night Vale podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves…no matter where we live.

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.

When I first found out that the writers of Welcome to Night Vale were releasing a book based in the town I was really excited. I love Night Vale, Cecil and the town that we share these 20 minute glimpses in when listening to the podcast. Most of them were listened to when I was knitting, so the two for me are strongly related.

To be honest it was one of those books that I wasn’t sure what to expect, nor how it would translate into a book. The audio format of the podcast works perfectly for those 20 minute sessions. The liver performances were perfectly in that they are extended episodes just played live. A book? It’s a different form of media, and a different form of delivery.

I wasn’t that keen, and that made me sad.

I don’t know if it’s one of those things that’s a victim of it’s own success, or that it was simply a debut novel which, as mentioned, is an entirely different format to a scripted radio show, but for me, something didn’t click when I was reading. In some instances it felt as though I had to force myself to read.

At it’s heart we have two main characters, with two concurrent plots, interlaced with excerpts from Cecil’s radio show. Jackie, a forever 19 year old who runs the pawn shop, is given a slip of paper saying “King City” that just won’t leave her hand. And she can write nothing else but “King City” and it’s disrupted her life. She endeavours to find out just what the heck is going on. We also have Diane, mother of shape shifter Josh. Josh wants to know about his absent father, and Diane did not want him to know really [the reason is never really discussed except for the fact he left when he found out about Diane’s pregnancy].

We encounter a lot of typical Night Vale strangeness, and it’s revealed that it is Night Vale that is strange, not something that is particularly universal. King City succumbed to Night Vale strangeness, and the Man in the Tan Jacket is trying to fix it. Except no one can remember him. Wait, who were we talking about again?

I think what was missing for me was the atmosphere. I don’t think the atmosphere of the podcast was translated across to the book, which despite the absurdity of Night Vale, made the book a bit… dull, and difficult to follow.

In all, I wanted to love this book, but as mentioned that lack of atmosphere made it hard. Here’s hoping that the next book will have developed in this respect as the authors gain more experience about venturing the Night Vale name into this medium.

What are you reading at the moment? I’m trying to decide from the 181 books on my GoodReads shelves!