Followers of my article series here might’ve caught on by now to the fact that podcasts are near and dear to my heart. This week, I want to talk about Night Vale Presents’ first foray into serial fiction, Alice Isn’t Dead, written by Joseph Fink, performed by Jasika Nicole with music by Disparition.
If you are a fan of Welcome to Night Vale (WTNV), like me, then this series is right up your alley. It’s the story of a young woman, played by Jasika Nicole, driving across the U.S. as a freight truck driver searching for her wife, Alice. They were a happy couple; Alice travels a lot but always comes home, until one day she doesn’t. Our narrator is devastated by it. She soon see’s Alice in the background of a newscast, which sparks her search for the missing Alice and leads her to start working for Bay and Creek Shipping. She eventually meets a strange, dark, and dangerous character named The Thistle Man, a deadly creature who ills without regard and has taken a liking to our narrator.
Over the course of the season, which has finished up recently, we see our Narrator visiting strange places, committing crimes, and meeting both friends and foes. The Thistle Man is ever on her heels though, tracking her and keeping an eye on her. But she isn’t alone — she meets a hitchhiker named Sylvia, another person aware of Thistle Man, who helps her gather some information about this nefarious beast. They obtain this information by breaking into a police station and soon after they part ways. The series has a satisfying conclusion despite leaving plenty of questions left to answer
Written by WTNV co-creator and writer Joseph Fink, Alice Isn’t Dead is written with a similar tone and format to that of the wildly popular WTNV. We listen to our narrator over her CB radio, her monologue jumping forward and backward chronologically to maintain tension. It feels odd to listen to as she is not really addressing us, the audience, but rather Alice. The writing is impeccable and the voice acting of Jasika Nicole is perfection. Joseph Fink has a talent for blending weird fiction with horror in a unique way, unseen since Lovecraft. The characters, as little as we know about them, are so strong. The sense of loss and need coming out of narrator is palpable; you can’t help from empathizing with her struggle. The horrors she experiences are heart-wrenching and her triumphs make you cheer. The tone of the series is bolstered by the music of Disparition, who also provides music for WTNV. The sound design in Alice Isn’t Dead is both haunting and immersive.
This podcast is a perfect 10 out of 10. Hopefully it will not take them too long to produce a second season, though I fear it may be later rather than sooner — everyone involved is busy and the show needs funds (as all podcasts do).