Fink, Joseph and Jeffrey Cranor. “The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home”, Harper Perennial, 2019.
An Intriguing and Terrifying Old Woman
Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel “Welcome to Night Vale” and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name. Now they have a new book, “The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home” to add to the Night Vale series.
“Welcome to Night Vale” is a community radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale, a friendly desert community somewhere in the Southwest and where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all natural and commonplace parts of everyday life. The radio show reports on the strange events within. The podcast covers news, announcements, and advertisements but it is very weird.
In the town of Night Vale, there’s a faceless old woman who secretly lives in everyone’s home, but no one knows how she got there or where she came from. We go back centuries in time to read of an initially blissful and then tragic childhood on a Mediterranean Estate in the early nineteenth century. The woman was involved in the criminal underworld of Europe and in a nautical adventure with a mysterious organization of smugglers. She plotted revenge on the ones who betrayed her and her spirit has travelled the world for years before settling in modern-day Night Vale.
Today in Night Vale, The Faceless Old Woman guides, haunts, and sabotages a man named Craig. In the end, her current day dealings with Craig and her history from nineteenth century Europe come together in an unexpected and horrifying way.
The reader is soon involved with what is written on the page and is tricked into embracing the surreal in order to underscore and emphasize the real as affirmation of emotional truths that don’t conform to neat Night Vale. The story explores the coming together of Night Vale, a strange little town with the real world. We sense terror between the lines of the authors’ prose.
We are taken on “a hypnotic travelogue that shimmers and changes as you read. A friendly (but terrifying) and comic (but dark) and glittering (but bleak) story of misfit family life that unfolds along the side streets, back alleys and spring-loaded trap doors of the small town home you’ll realize you’ve always missed living in. When it says ‘welcome,’ it’s mandatory. You belong here.” Night Vale comes to life on the pages and as I said before, it is weird and surreal as well as an “ existential meditation on the nature of time, reality, and the glow cloud that watches over us.” Night Vale “feels more like home than home” making us want to live there regardless of the strange happenings.