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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
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Dear Martin by Nic Stone Death by Tea by Alex Erickson
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The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
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The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home: 04/24/20

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor  is the third Night Vale novel. This one fleshes out the titular character, diving into the story of her life, her death, and her transcendence. Not bad for a character who began as a gag in Episode 14 - The Man in the Tan Jacket. She's mentioned during the "Word from our sponsors" bit:

Today’s program has been sponsored by the physical act of gulping. For thousands of years, gulping has been there for human beings when they needed an expressive gesture of the throat. Whether you want to indicate nervousness about an upcoming test or appointment, fear of the Faceless Old Woman who lives secretly in your home, or just want to ingest milk faster than with regular swallowing, gulping is the way to go.

Most of this novel is set on and around the Mediterranean sea in the late 1700s and through the 1800s, except for some modern day (2015 and 2020) monologues by the Faceless old Woman.

The woman never names herself. She gives her origin as an island estate in the Mediterranean sea where she and her father lived. The estate has fallen on hard times and she learns over the course of her childhood that her father has turned to smuggling to make ends meet.

From the places he's described going, and later from her travels, it's established that their Europe is the alternate dimension one that Night Vale exists in.

Throughout the narrator's life, she describes seeing a strange figure of a man. He seems to fit the basic physical appearance as the Thistle Man in Alice Isn't Dead (2018).

Chart showing the three Night Vale novels in relation to each other on the RDS

As with all of Fink's novels, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home sits on the road narrative spectrum. Looking just at the Night Vale books, we see a tight triangle in the horror end of the spectrum. Namely, the horror comes from a fantastical route.

Like It Devours!, the traveler is a privileged one (00). Ultimately that traveler is the narrator who gains through experience the ability to be in all places at once, but early on it's the sailors of the Order of the Labyrinth.

Like Welcome to Night Vale, the destination is uhoria (CC). The narrator manages to exist well beyond her own lifetime. She also, of course, ends up in Night Vale, a place defined in part by it's alternative take on how time works.

But like It Devours, the narrator's path is through the labyrinth (99). It is also inspired and driven and misguided by it. The Order of the Labyrinth ships are her initial inspiration to take up a life of smuggling. Later her realization that the Order is timeless and uninterested in the ways of mankind leads her to her route, one driven on a desire for revenge. It is that thirst for revenge which leads her to her home(s) in Night Vale.

All together, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home is a novel of privileged travelers going to and through uhoria via the labyrinth (00CC99).

Four stars

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