Welcome to the Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead

From the creators of Welcome to the Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead is a serial fictional horror podcast with a unique premise. Our unnamed narrator’s wife, Alice, suddenly goes missing. In an attempt to deal with the emotional turmoil of her wife’s disappearance, the narrator begins to work as a truck driver. What makes this podcast so unique is the delivery of the story. Our narrator talks into a truck radio, directly to Alice. Our narrator searches for Alice along her delivery routes, encountering the strange and fleeing from the sinister Thistle Man—the antagonist of the story­—throughout her journey.

The voice acting is mesmerizing. The narrator, voiced by Jessika Nicole, conveys a wide range of emotion through her voice. In one moment, she speaks with a soft, small voice, full of self-doubt. Then, in the next moment, she cackles in defiance.

More precisely, the way the narrator details her experiences pulls the listener into her world. This is one of this podcast’s greatest strengths. During her travels, she explores Middle America and takes listeners along for the ride. Some places mentioned during her travels are rundown diners, shitty motels, ghost towns, seedy gas stations, and “A Historical McDonald’s.”

The narrator gives listeners the eerie details of these lost and forgotten places. In “Part 1, Chapter 4: The Factory by the Sea,” our narrator reminisces making bread with Alice,

“The yeast and gluten makes it a living thing. It moves when you poke it. It breathes into your hands,” the narrator says.

This is only one example of the creepy and vivid dialogue featured through Alice Isn’t Dead. The imagery created is beautiful yet somewhat disturbing. It’s discomforting to think of fresh bread as something that once was, or currently is, alive.

Starting with smaller details, our narrator slowly builds an image of her world for listeners, though usually this image is somewhat incomplete. This is probably best showcased in the first episode, “Omelet.” During her first encounter with the Thistle Man, our narrator describes his appearance: “He was wearing a yellow hat, like, um, like a baseball hat. His fingernails were yellow, too. Not cigarette yellow or nail polish yellow; translucent yellow, just below the surface. […] Egg crusted his lips and his chin, his teeth were an impossibility of spacing and angle. […] He walked like his legs weren’t muscle and bone, but just, uh, sacks of meat attached to his torso.”

This focus on the miniscule aspects of the Thistle Man without alluding to broader, clearer details forces the listener to form an incomplete image of who, or what, he is. This balance of clarity and ambiguity leaves listeners on edge, heightening the mystery of it all, as unnerving as it is.

The non-linear storytelling adds to this creepiness. During one segment our narrator is happily babbling about making pizza when suddenly the radio cuts off. In the next segment, she tearfully questions her own sanity. Then in the next scene, she describes an unknown event that has already come to pass. The lack of continuity, though, may run the risk of exhausting the listener.

At times, you cannot tell if the narrator is delusional. Is any of this really happening? She is obsessive and the underlying desperation in her voice may cause listeners to doubt her trustworthiness as a narrator. Alice Isn’t Dead is a thriller, a horror, and a mystery, but ultimately tells a story of someone who is searching for what she’s lost.

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