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

Written by Jeffrey Cranor Joseph Fink
Review by G. J. Berger

This multi-genre novel opens in Night Vale, a fictional town in the American Southwest where ghosts, angels, and specters dwell. In 2011 an old specter inhabits the small apartment of Craig, a young bachelor and low-level copy editor at a car dealership. This specter has great powers. She can grab and move objects and travel where she wants. Some humans can hear and talk to her. She sets all of Craig’s shoes on fire and jams glass shards into his car ignition but then also guides him to a good marriage and a satisfying teacher job.

The story jumps back in time to 1792, when the specter was a fully human young girl growing up as the only child of a widowed estate owner on the Mediterranean Sea. After an idyllic but short childhood, her father is murdered and the family estate destroyed. The young woman must now find her own way in a hard world. Constantly driven to avenge her father’s murder, she becomes an expert wielder of knives, a clever thief, then smuggler, ship captain and leader of thugs.

The dual plots of the old specter’s sinister present-day dealings and her past life of brutal vengeance suddenly merge in a credible ending. Excellent prose (“Memory lives inside the eyelids.”) helps the reader easily accept the contrasting blend of fantasy and reality. The dual main plot lines (deep past and present-day) become page turners on two levels—how each will resolve and how they might connect. Recommended for any fan of historical fantasy or science fiction or even old-fashioned thrillers.