mara wilson

REVIEW: “The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home” (A Welcome to Night Vale Novel) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

fowI love Night Vale. A lot. It’s one of those ideas that is eternally malleable. There’s so much that can be done with these characters and the setting and novels are a really good way for the authors to push the boundaries of the world. It’s what they did with the first two novels, Welcome to Night Vale and It Devours! and it’s obviously what they’re seeking to do here with their third, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home. The Faceless Old Woman is the perfect character for a book devoted to her, much like the Man in the Tan Jacket was a perfect character to explore in the first novel, and the promise of finally learning her story was one that immensely interested me and got me really pumped to give this book a read. Having read it, I can safely say that it does not disappoint. For long time fans of the podcast and previous books, this one might take some getting used to, but the story it tells does complete justice to the character while still spinning a story that’s full of surprise and pathos. (Mild spoilers may follow.)

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
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…until now. Told in a series of eerie flashbacks, the story of The Faceless Old Woman goes back centuries to reveal an initially blissful and then tragic childhood on a Mediterranean Estate in the early nineteenth century, her rise in the criminal underworld of Europe, a nautical adventure with a mysterious organization of smugglers, her plot for revenge on the ones who betrayed her, and ultimately her death and its aftermath, as her spirit travels the world for decades until settling in modern-day Night Vale.

Interspersed throughout is a present-day story in Night Vale, as The Faceless Old Woman guides, haunts, and sabotages a man named Craig. In the end, her current day dealings with Craig and her swashbuckling history in nineteenth century Europe will come together in the most unexpected and horrifying way.

Part The Haunting of Hill House, part The Count of Monte Cristo, and 100% about a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home.

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One Town, Many Versions (Welcome to Night Vale, Year 5 review)

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Fanart made with the official cover for the podcast and fanart by SunnyClockwork

Season five of Welcome to Night Vale will fondly be remembered as the season that Night Vale really just went for it. It began normally enough, but by the end of the season we were in multiple timelines and realities and it was just all kinds of fun. Season five of Welcome to Night Vale finally answers the question of “Who is Huntokar?” and begins to explain some of the odd timeline occurrences throughout the series. As the barriers between alternate Night Vales begin to break down, Cecil and all of Night Vale try to grapple with their new reality. What is causing this to happen? Can it be fixed? Will things ever be the same?

Honestly, I think this season of Night Vale is probably my favorite season to date. Almost every episode is a really strong one, with a few exceptions, of course. This season continues the arc of Hiram McDaniels’ execution by introducing his sister, Hadassah McDaniels, and an array of other dragons who have come to Night Vale in order to secure the release of Hiram (as human laws should not apply to dragons, in their eyes). Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly go as planned as Hiram breaks out of jail, his Violet head being killed by Sheriff Sam in the process. Hadassah, naturally, is enraged by this, and her and the dragons destroy much of Night Vale – but, let’s be real, how often is most of Night Vale destroyed only for it to not be destroyed again by the next episode? This is a fun plotline, but, really, all of the plotlines around Hiram are usually pretty fun, and this is no exception.

Meanwhile, Old Woman Josie’s health has continued to rapidly deteriorate. Her daughter, Alondra, reluctantly comes to town to take care of her. Throughout the first half of the season, we learn more about Old Woman Josie’s past, which makes her death later in the season all the more tragic. The worst part is how mundane it is. She doesn’t die by some odd supernatural event or anything; she just dies of old age. And it’s sad, and the episode when it happens is sad. Cecil sounds so defeated. From there on, the season follows the angels as they try to obtain legal recognition as beings from the government so they can inherit what Josie wanted to leave them. Alondra fights against this, though, as Josie left no will/nothing written stating that the angels were to get anything at all. This, too, is a fun plotline. It’s nice having the angels take a more active role in the story than they have in the past. It’s all too sad how realistic their struggle to gain recognition from the government is, and it’s a clever bit of social satire that Fink and Cranor deliver through it.

On the romance front, Cecil and Carlos finally get married!  In the 100th episode of the series, fans were surprised by an episode that featured every voiced character that had ever appeared in Night Vale all gathering together to celebrate the wedding of Cecil and Carlos. Before this episode, the series had made no hints that a marriage was imminent. No announcement of a proposal from either character, no discussion about weddings at all. It was a wonderful surprise and a wonderful episode. There’s something so pure and joyful when Cecil refers to Carlos as his husband. I just love them both so much and I’m so happy the show decided to have them get married.

The other major plotline is the resolution of the Huntokar story. Huntokar was introduced in season 1 as the god of the civilization underneath the bowling alley. As season five progressed, Huntokar kept appearing in various episodes, leading up to the revelation that the civilization underneath the bowling alley was actually an alternate Night Vale, and Huntokar was the cause of its destruction. We learn that Huntokar actually created Night Vale – and she is a God, along with the Glow Cloud, the Distant Prince, and the Woman From Italy. In 1983, when Nulogorsk underwent that nuclear test, both the US and Nulogorsk thought it was real, and blew each other up. Huntokar wanted to protect Night Vale, her creation, so she pulled it out of the timeline, and in doing so caused all the timelines in Night Vale to collapse. For years, she was able to keep Night Vale mostly balanced and okay, but after the events of the past few years, the balance was off and all the Night Vales were combining into each other and falling apart, causing all of those timeline oddities (like Cecil having a brother yet not remembering said brother). I won’t spoil how it ends, but it’s pretty rad, and I’m really interested in seeing where Night Vale goes from here.

Overall, season five of Welcome to Night Vale was awesome. Fink and Cranor really pushed the boundaries on what the show is and what it could do, and it resulted in a really strong, cohesive, and enjoyable season of this podcast. Their characters continue to be interesting and unique and fully developed, and the world building that this season underwent brought both a sense of clarity and even more mystery to the town itself. It’s really just a wonderful season of a wonderful podcast and I’m looking forward to all that will happen next season.

I give Year Five of Welcome to Night Vale five out of five wands.

REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale (Season 3) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

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      A cover for the season I made using fanart

As script books have only been released for the first two seasons of Welcome to Night Vale, all further reviews of the podcast itself will be based solely on the content of the podcast and the plots therein. In season three of Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil deals with the stress put on his relationship with Carlos by Carlos being trapped in a desert otherworld and the fear and anger that comes from being used against his will to repeatedly save Mayor Dana Cardinal. Who bought Lot 37 and is controlling Cecil? Who keeps attacking the mayor? When will Carlos come home?  (more…)

REVIEW: The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe (Welcome to Night Vale, Episodes #2) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

51pbspam99lThe Great Glowing Coils of the Universe is the second volume featuring scripts from the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe contains the scripts from the podcast’s second season, as well as the live show The Debate, along with an introduction by Maureen Johnson, illustrations by Jessica Hayworth, and introductions to each episode by various members of the cast and crew. In The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe, Night Vale faces a takeover by a totalitarian corporation that threatens to forever change the town and everyone in it. Like the previous review, this review will be in two parts; the first part will discuss the book itself while the second part discusses the content of the season.
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