The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

faceless

Welcome to Night Vale is a bimonthly podcast set in the fictional town of Night Vale, where all manner of weird and wonderful things live and happen. One of their recurring characters, and fan favourites, is The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home (yes, that is her name), and she is voiced by Mara Wilson (the little girl – now grown up – who was the little girl in Matilda and all those other 90’s movies).

I was a bit hesitant to get this book. Their first novel, Welcome to Night Vale, was utterly brilliant and incredibly moving. Their second, It Devours, was – well, I hated it. So I didn’t know what this would be. What it is, essentially, is an historical novel about piracy that tells the story of her life.

Growing up alone with her father in an estate (which was her dead mother’s, not her poor father), she discovers that her father is involved in criminal enterprises (we are in the 1800s here) and seeks to join. A lot happens that I won’t spoil, but she ends up going on a series of adventures that are great fun, beautifully drawn, with some excellent supporting characters.

What I loved about this book, without spoiling anything, is that it doesn’t go where you think it will. It takes the tropes of these books – the historical novel, the seafaring novel – and circumvents them, and ultimately, this book is a sad book about a person destroyed, literally losing herself and becoming faceless, the terrifying Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home. It is a book about love and revenge and is very much recommended (and, you don’t have to have listened to Night Vale, or read the previous books to read it!)

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You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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