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The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel

Review

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel

In the town of Night Vale, there is a Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your home. Or maybe it is not a secret. Perhaps you hear her whispering to you, or you come home to find that she has set your refrigerator on fire or sent your girlfriend terrible text messages for no apparent reason. If you have wondered about this Woman, where she comes from and why she haunts Night Vale, many, but not all, of your questions are about to be answered. THE FACELESS OLD WOMAN WHO SECRETLY LIVES IN YOUR HOME is Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor’s third Welcome to Night Vale novel, and it shares the backstory of one of the most intriguing and mysterious characters from the popular surrealist podcast.

The Woman is born in 1792 in a small row boat in the Mediterranean, and her mother dies in that same boat just moments after delivering her. Her father gives his only child a beautiful life on their seaside estate. It is a life of love infused with the taste and smell of the oranges that grow there. Her best friend is a neighbor boy named Albert, and as they grow up together, their feelings for each other mature as well.

"This is a fun and compelling adventure with plenty of strangeness, and a thoughtful exploration of the kinds of emotions that impact decisions in life...and perhaps beyond."

Her father and his young business partner, Edmond, are smugglers, using the cove on the estate to move goods from ships. The work is dangerous, especially with rival bandits and pirates like the Duke’s Own and the Order of the Labyrinth. As a young teenager, she is initiated into the work and proves to be an adept and skillful contributor to the family business. When her father becomes a victim of the shady dealings in which he has been involved, she loses not just him but her home and Albert as well. She and Edmond survive the violence, and while he settles in Barcelona, she begins a life of pirating that spans decades and is fueled by the loss of her father and thoughts of vengeance.

In these decades of crime and piracy, the Woman is usually accompanied by her three closest friends: the distractingly handsome Andre; Rebekah, a master of disguise; and the amazingly strong Lora. Together they work for the Duke’s Own but try to maintain a sense of justice and limit the violence they perpetrate on the innocent. All the while, the Woman stays in touch with Edmond and remains focused on revenge for her father’s death. If only she could infiltrate the Order of the Labyrinth, she could make them pay for his murder.

But of course, things are not quite so simple. Not only is she haunted her whole life by the figure of a hunched and dying man, but by 1863 she becomes a figure of haunting herself. Transformed to a state somewhere between life and death, she is connected in emotional and metaphysical ways to men, watching them live and die. Eventually, her path takes her to Night Vale, where weird is the norm, and violence, beauty and philosophic inquiry flourish.

THE FACELESS OLD WOMAN WHO SECRETLY LIVES IN YOUR HOME moves between the Woman’s origin story and the present day as she tries to control the life of a Night Vale man named Craig, directing him to marry a particular woman instead of another (and setting his shoes on fire). The connection between her and Craig is only revealed at the end of the novel, but it won’t come as a great surprise. Still, Fink and Cranor do a terrific job bringing the Woman to life (no pun intended) and giving Night Vale fans her backstory. And one need not be an aficionado of the series to enjoy this book.

This is a fun and compelling adventure with plenty of strangeness, and a thoughtful exploration of the kinds of emotions that impact decisions in life...and perhaps beyond. Sweet, smart and sorrowful, funny and bizarre, it is a fantastic contribution to the Welcome to Night Vale universe, and an enjoyable story about morality, mortality, and the powerful and complex connections we humans create.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on April 3, 2020

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel
by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

  • Publication Date: March 24, 2020
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0062889001
  • ISBN-13: 9780062889003