Somewhere in the dry western deserts of America there is a town where every conspiracy theory (and then some) is true. Hooded figures roam the streets; agents from a vague yet menacing government agency sneak around; the secret police record everything said with ill-concealed microphones; and the city council growls and chants their press statements in unison, often on the way to yet another vacation. This is Night Vale, the surreal, absurd, and wonderfully strange fictional town narrated by local community radio host Cecil Palmer (Cecil Baldwin) in Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor’s podcast Welcome to Nightvale.
The podcast is one of my favorites, the first I started listening to regularly. It is silly, funny and at times, heart-wrenching. The writing is spot on, the music is odd but great, and Baldwin’s sonorous voice is rich enough to sink into. I’m not quite caught up with the series yet (and don’t you dare tell me any spoilers!), mostly because I want to sustain the pleasure of listening to it for as long as I can.
Which is why it made me really happy to see that Fink and Cranor had written a Night Vale book. The eponymously named volume does correspond with a particular point in the podcast, but can be read quite easily without once listening at all. It is a beautifully written piece in the usual Night Vale style that follows a few side characters who occasionally get mentioned in the podcast but not enough that you know them beyond their jobs (pawn shop owner and head of the PTA).
The Welcome to Night Vale book, along with Mostly Void, Partially Stars, which collects the first season of episodes in writing and illustration, are great for the established Night Vale fan or the interested but podcast wary reader alike. And I, fangirl that I am, can’t recommend them enough.
-Katta Hules, Magus Minion