Welcome to Night Vale (Harper Perennial, $19.99)—the book! The many fans of the podcast will eagerly greet this literary incarnation, which is filled with familiar characters, places, references to the show—and even answers to some lingering questions about setting and backstory. Moreover, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor take care to orient newcomers and occasional Night Vale visitors. The story centers on two women: Jackie Fierro, nineteen-year-old pawn shop owner, and Diane Crayton, mother and PTA treasurer. Jackie’s predictable and routine life is thrown into confusion when a strange man in a tan jacket visits her shop. Meanwhile, Diane is tasked with caring for her shape-shifting son, but gets distracted when his estranged father starts showing up everywhere she goes, looking exactly as he did when he left years earlier. Each of these women has a separate story, but their lives are inextricably connected by two words: “King City.” Together, Fink and Cranor have an imagination like no other, and you’ll find it hard to put this eerie, dark, strange, and entertaining mystery.
Martin Walker presents yet another cunning mystery with the eighth book in his Bruno, Chief of Police series. The Patriarch (Knopf, $24.95) takes readers on a sensorial journey around France while also presenting an engaging police drama true to the Walker canon. In this installment, Bruno fulfills his boyhood dream when he attends a house party and meets World War II flying ace Marco “The Patriarch” Desaix. However, by the end of the celebration, Gilbert, Marco’s longtime friend, is killed in an accident. But Bruno is immediately suspicious, and launches an investigation, starting with the Desaix family, a confounding bunch, with whom Bruno develops the complicated relationships that drive the plot. Readers will be on the edge of their seats until the very end. Those familiar with Walker’s work can rest assured that the author again combines his expertise about post-World War II European politics with his understanding of current French issues to thoroughly engage readers in the mystery at hand.
Uprooted is a fresh take on classic fairy tales. Novick does not dwell on romance or damsels in distress, instead, she depicts multiple strong female leads, and keeps the action going from chapter one. It is set on the edge of a corrupted wood, and there is an old magic that dominates the plot of this book. It is the way that the main characters harness the magic that makes this story truly unforgettable. Agneiszka, Kasia, and the Dragon start off as simple citizens in a troubled kingdom, and after one life changing event, they are thrust in the middle of a battle for land, power, and ultimately life. In the end this book is about figuring out who you are and where you belong in a deeply corrupted world.