The Story is Coming from Inside the House: A Review of The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home


The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home

By Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Horror/Historical Fiction 

QUILTBAG Main Character: No

QUILTBAG Minor Character: Yes

POC Main Character: No

Bechdel Test: Yes

Summary: Based on the podcast Welcome to Night Vale: The modern day desert town of Night Vale is home to many mysteries but none of them like this. Here is the story of a woman hundreds of years old whose father was a smuggler, killed at the hands of an elusive group of cloaked figures sailing ships full of glowing containers. Hers is a story of revenge, heartbreak, and horror that will take her all the way to Night Vale where she becomes the terror she is today: The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home.

Let’s Get A Little Deep:

How is that for a novel concept! The Faceless Old Woman is an ambitious novel completely different from what authors Fink and Cranor have done with their other works. Spanning decades, centuries even, The Faceless Old Woman asks the question: Can we humanize a boogeyman? Or boogeywoman in this case.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ve been a fan of Night Vale for a long time. I got to see a live show and lost my entire mind throughout it. (Yasi was there and can confirm.) I have Night Vale bumper stickers and Night Vale posters. I have a Night Vale Tarot Deck. I was so eager to read this book, because The Faceless Old Woman is one of my favorite characters in the podcast. Having said that, you absolutely do not need to listen to Night Vale to enjoy this book. You do not have to have read the other books in the Night Vale world, either. You’ll get more out of it if you are familiar with the world of Night Vale, but fear not, anyone can pick up and love this novel. It is completely readable as a standalone.

With that out of the way, let’s get to a book about the things that haunt us. The novel flashes between the past as told by The Faceless Old Woman and present-day Night Vale where she speaks directly to a man named Craig. We witness first hand the lengths that The Faceless Old Woman has gone in search of justice and how justice so easily twists to vengeance. Her desire to heap consequences on those she thinks are responsible for her misfortune ultimately leads her to a life far away from home, hundreds of years later.

I’ve talked about my love of revenge stories when I talked about Scavenge the Stars. What marks this novel as different is how well Fink and Cranor weave historical fiction with horror. The reader is increasingly uneasy with both what is happening to The Faceless Old Woman and what she is doing in the present. 

The book reads like a descent, a spiraling ever fathering into the darkness that The Faceless Old Woman lives her life in. It is tempting, seeing what she chooses to do, to be afraid enough of her that you hate her. She is the thing you see in the corner of your eye, the voice you think called your name, every shadow you could swear moved only a moment before. She is the terror of both the unknown and of the past coming to haunt you.

But she is not unsympathetic. This is a woman who has lost much, who has let obsession chip away at her very soul. We see her love richly, care deeply for friends. Yet despite warnings from these same close friends and lovers, she repeatedly returns to her obsession, to the revenge that sustains her. 

Therein lies the real horror of The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: It is possible to look into the abyss too long and become the very thing we despise. The Faceless Old Woman is the hero of her own story, but to others, she is the monster. It is impossible to separate the two things, impossible to not see her as both hero and villain. Is it possible to sympathize with the boogeyman? This novel certainly makes one think so.

Thanks for going a little deep with me! I post reviews every other Thursday. Did you love The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home? Leave a comment telling me your favorite minor character. You can also find me on Twitter @gwasserst! Special thanks to Yasi (@yasaminnb) for editing my posts.

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