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Literature / Welcome to Night Vale

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Welcome to Night Vale is a Spinoff novel based on the podcast of the same name. It was written by series writers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and published in 2015 by Harper Perennial and Orbit Books.

Diane Crayton is a single mother who's lately been feeling pressure from her shapeshifting son Josh, who wants to know more about his missing father. Diane wants Josh to have nothing to do with his father, which gets complicated when Diane starts seeing him everywhere. To distract herself Diane starts looking for her coworker Evan, who disappeared and no one remembers.

Jackie Fiero is the perpetually nineteen year old proprietor of Jackie's Pawn Shop. Jackie's beloved routine is disrupted when The Man in the Tan Jacket hands her a piece of paper that says "KING CITY" on it, which Jackie is unable to let go of. To remove this obstruction to her routine Jackie starts investigating The Man in the Tan Jacket and King City.


Eventually Diane and Jackie's stories intersect. The novel is regularly interrupted by segments from Night Vale Community Radio, sometimes to talk about events related to the main plot, oftentimes to report on unrelated or parallel running stories.

This book provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain:
    • The man in the tan jacket aka the mayor of King City. While he's decidedly ruthless about it, all he actually wants is to get his town back to normal and to make himself possible to remember again.
    • Also Troy, who means no harm and in fact is trying to be a better person, but is doing such a bad job at it that everyone ends up worse off for it.
  • Arc Words: The Dark Planet, Lit by No Sun claims another victim.
  • Ascended Extra: Diane had a few appearances and Jackie only had one brief mention before the book, and yet they're the protagonists.
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  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: In any other town but Night Vale the pawn shop would be one.
  • Brick Joke: Throughout the novel, people comment on both Diane and Jackie having migraines, which the two of them both deny. Near the end of the book, Cecil reminds everyone that last month the definition of migraine has been changed to mean "a giant scorpion hiding on the back of your neck that you would have no awareness of until someone points it out".
  • Call-Back: Jackie buys the "KING CITY" for $30 and an idea about time. It had been previously mentioned that the pawn shop had a surplus of ideas about time, so she is probably still trying to get rid of them.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Josh and Jackie get to confront their father Troy. Josh is willing to try and start a friendship with Troy, noting that he doesn't get to just be his father after being gone fifteen years. Jackie just doesn't want anything to do with him.
  • The Cameo: Steve Carlsberg, Carlos, Old Women Josie and the Angels, John Peters (you know, the farmer), the Faceless Old Woman, and Mayor Cardinal all show up for about a chapter.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The lawn flamingos dropped off at Jackie's shop in the beginning send people to other dimensions, which makes them the only way to get to King City. Somewhat downplayed as by the time this is discovered, Old Woman Josie has already taken the flamingos back.
    • The Mercedes dropped off at Jackie's shop in the beginning comes in handy when Diane's car is stolen, and Jackie's car is destroyed in a crash.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The "KING CITY" papers cannot be gotten rid of; no matter what is done to them, they will reappear in their owner's hand in pristine condition, and also consume their owner's minds with thoughts of King City.
  • Creature of Habit: Jackie Fiero. Her motivations throughout most of the book is to get rid of the "KING CITY" so she can finally get back to her routine.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Sheila, whose mind is teleported back to her birth when she touches a flamingo, forcing her into an endless loop of her life repeating up to the point where she touches a flamingo, who had hidden in the community radio building trying to break the loop, dies when she falls into a pit that was being used to bury all the flamingos, subsequently touching hundreds of them in the process, splitting her consciousness into hundreds of versions of her infant self, all very much aware that her real self has died.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Diane is closer to her son, Josh knows more about his father, Jackie is out of her rut, and The Man in the Tan Jacket is finally remembered by his family.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Librarians get their most detailed description yet. They are giant masses of shadows with giant mouths, pale white tentacles, and can shoot acid.
  • Eldritch Location: Night Vale, natch, but King City is also unusual in that it can't be reached normally.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Cecil is upset when someone (actually Diane and Jackie) breaks into Carlos's lab storage to touch a flamingo and get to King City.
  • The Fog of Ages: Foreshadowed when Jackie tries to think of the day she started working at the Pawn shop but is unable, Jackie has been 19 and following the exact same routine for so long she's simply forgotten her life outside of that.
  • Genius Loci: The Crayton house is capable of thought. Its thoughts influence the thoughts of the people inside of it, but said thoughts are usually pretty harmless, banal things like "tarantulas are simple creatures".
  • Greek Chorus: Cecil serves as this to the events going on since he never interacts with Jackie or Diane directly.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Referenced. Diane imagines herself as a hacker on television rapid-fire typing her way through firewalls while snooping through her colleagues' computers, but really she's just uncannily good at guessing people's passwords.
  • Intangible Price: While Jackie's initial offer is always "$11" and the sale price of everything in her pawn shop is $11 she often ends up paying in things other than cash like "a good night's sleep" or "an idea about time".
  • Insane Troll Logic: Diane calls her insurance company in an attempt to get stolen property replaced: The insurance agent asks if Diane can see it, and when she says she cannot, they counter that if she can't see it, it isn't there, and you can't replace something that doesn't exist.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Jackie and Diane eventually, though since Jackie has run the pawn shop for centuries it's debatable who is the older person in the relationship.
  • Irrational Hatred: Diane admits that Steve Carlsberg is a nice man, but there is just something about him that sets her teeth on edge.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Josh's father turns out to be Jackie's father, making them half-siblings.
  • Meaningful Name: It had been mentioned nobody knows why the pawn shop is called Lucinda's Pawn Shop when it has been run by Jackie for as long as anyone can remember. It turns out Lucinda is Jackie's mom, who had given the pawn shop to Jackie only three months ago from Lucinda's perspective.
  • Meaningful Rename: As a sign of Character Development, Jackie renames "Lucinda's Pawn Shop" to "Jackie's Pawn Shop" at the end.
  • Me's a Crowd: Why Josh's father Troy can be seen everywhere. He somehow made multiple copies of himself so he could be helpful to everyone.
  • The Needs of the Many:
    • Diane considers asking Carlos to give her and Jackie a flamingo to get to King City, but he's looking out for the well-being of the town and thus wouldn't do such a thing.
    • The mayor of King City is willing to sacrifice any of Troy's children to keep his town safe. Diane is less than amused about it.
  • Never My Fault: It takes a very long time for Troy to take responsibility for his actions, including his corruption of King City.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Josh while driving the car he "borrowed" from Diane causes Jackie's accident, totaling her car and breaking her arm.
  • No Sympathy: Jackie's initial response to hearing that Josh has run away is to say that all kids need to run away at some point in their lives.
  • Odd Couple: Jackie and Diane initially do not get along at all, since Diane is the mother of a teenager and is therefore used to teenagers needing to be ordered around and encouraged to grow up, and Jackie is a teenager who hates it when adults order her around and tell her to grow up - especially since she's been a teenager for centuries and is technically older than the adults telling her to grow up.
  • Parents as People: Diane's neither a bad mother nor a perfect one.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Diane: Look at yourself Evan, or whatever the fuck your name is. Josh, I'm sorry I cursed.
  • Red Herring: Old Woman Josie is dealing with something buried in her back yard that turns out to be normal unrelated Night Vale weirdness.
    • A lot of the Night Vale weirdness in general. When something is actually explained it's just as likely to be Night Vale weirdness relevant to the plot as it is a completely unrelated Night Vale weirdness, or even just something completely normal that sounded like Night Vale weirdness. For example, the Sheriff's Secret Police's origin is surprisingly mundane and really was a desired and welcomed change to the Night Vale Police force. While only half of Jackie's Pawn Shop rituals were standard weirdnote  and the other half were added on as a result of broken time distorting Jackie's memories and thus were actually arbitrary.note  It's just all a part of Night Vale always keeping you on your toes.
  • Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times: Diane (and most other residents in Night Vale) has seen John Franheimer's 1973 adaptation of The Iceman Cometh at the local movie theater dozens of times in her life, as there were nightly screenings of it by Night Vale city ordinance.
  • Spam Attack: The KING CITY papers were meant for Josh. Since Josh is a shape shifter, The Man in the Tan Jacket simply gave papers out to everyone, hoping one of them would turn out to be Josh.
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Jackie locks up the pawn shop by removing and burying the door. There's no Bizarrchitecture involved in this, she just literally removes the door from the frame leaving an empty frame behind. She considers this to be perfectly safe and doesn't understand how anyone could just waltz in and steal the flamingos.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Jackie and Diane have some sympathy for the mayor of King City on hearing his story, but they still think he was wrong to mess up their lives.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: The mayor of King City is apologetic about taking a woman's son away from her.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: The Voice of Night Vale chapters feature an ongoing traffic report about a man haunted by visions of a dark planet, lit by no sun.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In a quest to find out about Evan, Diane breaks into her boss's office and computer. This gets her fired, naturally.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Jackie and Diane's stories until they team up. In general, the focus alternates every chapter.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Troy Walsh, who turns King City from a completely normal town to an Eldritch Location just like Night Vale, simply by living there.