The Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh

The Faceless OneThe Faceless One by Mark Onspaugh

Description  from Goodreads

From a brilliant new voice in horror comes a riveting nightmare of ancient evil unleashed—and the bravery and sacrifice of those called to combat it.

In 1948, when he was just a boy, Jimmy Kalmaku trained with his uncle to be the shaman of his Tlingit village in Alaska. There he learned the old legends, the old myths, the old secrets. Chief among them was that of a mask locked in a prison of ice, and of the faceless god imprisoned within: a cruel and vengeful god called T’Nathluk, dedicated to the infliction of pain and suffering.

Now all but forgotten in a Seattle retirement home, Jimmy finds his life turned upside down. For when an unwitting archaeologist pries the mask free of its icy tomb, he frees T’Nathluk as well. Stuck in spirit form, the Faceless One seeks a human to serve as a portal through which he can enter our reality. The Faceless One can control—and mercilessly torture—anyone who touches the mask, which means there is no shortage of slaves to ferry it across the country to its chosen host.

Yet the Faceless One has foes as well: Stan Roberts, a tough New York cop whose pursuit of justice will lead him into a dark abyss of the soul; Steven, Liz, and Bobby, the family of the doomed archaeologist; and Jimmy Kalmaku, who must at last become the shaman of his boyhood dreams.

I gave this book three out of five stars.

My thoughts:

I was intrigued by the description for this book and requested a copy to review. I have to confess that I found the cover to be a little dark and indistinct. The description drew me in, the cover did not.

I initially had quite a bit of trouble getting into this book. It seemed to start off quite slowly, and drag. This is not one of the usual genres that I read frequently, but that being said, I rather enjoyed this book. There did, however, seem to be something lacking, perhaps a certain momentum, that I felt it required. This could have been the result of the multiple viewpoints employed, breaking up the narrative, but more likely was just a matter of personal taste.

I very much liked the main character Jimmy Kalmaku, and in particular the fun and easy relationship that he enjoyed with his fellow retirement home resident and friend, George. The way that Jimmy trusted George and introduced him to the secrets of his culture and the world of the shaman was well handled. This provided an interesting view of the shaman’s relationship with nature and magic, and gave the reader a good insight into the world view of the Tlingit, and their Gods.

The character of Stan Roberts was, I felt, indicative of the nature of this story. The internal struggle fought in the mind of Stan Roberts, with the faceless one, T’Nathluk , echoes the overarching theme of this story, that of the age old battle of good versus evil. The faceless one’s sporadic control of Stan Roberts and Stan’s indomitable desire to protect even a small piece of his mind, along with his readiness to carry out an unthinkable act, in order to foil the faceless ones plans, was for me, one of the most interesting threads of this story.

I would recommend this book  to anyone interested in reading horror, albeit rather tame horror, in my opinion. It was an interesting story built around an intense struggle of good versus evil, fought in the present, but ultimately dependent upon the shamanistic power and skills of the last real survivor of the almost extinct Tlingit tribe.

This review is based on an ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher.