Reviews > Published on October 20th, 2015

Bookshots: 'Welcome to Night Vale' by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Welcome to Night Vale

Who Wrote It?

If someone pressed an imaginary gun against my temple and said, “What did you think of this novel?” I would say that, if you enjoy the podcast, you’ll probably like the book too.

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the brilliant masterminds behind the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. There are rumors floating out there that Fink and Cranor aren’t actually two different people, but a giant glob of melted flesh perpetually screaming at only a volume canines can detect. I cannot legally confirm these rumors. But I think you know.

Plot in a Box:

Plots do not fit in boxes. Usually, boxes are lowered into plots, not the other way around. But if I was asked what the story was about, I would say, “There are no such thing as stories. Life is a series of vast interludes. We are all stagnant creatures destined to embrace a cloud of nothingness.” Then I would hand you a slip of paper that read, “KING CITY.” You might try throwing this paper away, but it would only end up back in your hand. King City. King City. King City.


Invent a new title for this book:

Welcome to Desert Bluffs

Read this if you liked:

The Welcome to Night Vale podcast. The redacted advisory notes from self-conscious air ventilation dust. The gravestones of your lovers. The cryptic phrases that keep mysteriously appearing on your flesh.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Diane and Jackie. They are people, sometimes like you and sometimes not like you at all. Also, Evan, but did he ever actually exist? Probably not.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

The immortal cinema legend Lee Marvin would play everybody. And also nobody.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Night Vale does not exist, so I couldn’t live there if I wanted to. Nothing exists. I do not exists. You do not exist. This review does not exist.

The Verdict:

Sometimes there are podcasts and sometimes there are novels. Sometimes novels are inspired by podcasts. Sometimes these novels are entertaining and sometimes these novels leave its readers floating in a puddle of black tar. Maybe novels and podcasts are two completely different forms of art, and maybe, just maybe they won’t always work well together.

A pack of feral dogs might argue that weird, surreal one-liners work much better in audio form than in coherent prose. The host of Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil, has one of the most unique voices in radio, but it’s likely his voice doesn’t work so well when it’s copy and pasted on other characters’ points-of-view and shuffled through a deck of podcast references to give its fans massive erections.

If someone pressed an imaginary gun against my temple and said, “What did you think of this novel?” I would say that, if you enjoy the podcast, you’ll probably like the book too. But don’t expect much more than what you already get in the podcast. It’s amusing and weird and has an absolutely amazing world, but unlike the podcast, the one-liners end up redundant and only drown out clarity of a “plot”, whatever a “plot” is. I don’t pretend to understand the glow cloud. I only obey it.

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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