PJV Quickie: Unlike many horror novels, THE FACELESS ONE sacrifices a quick pace to focus on the characters and story. The horror derives not from the killing itself but from the anticipating of the inevitable deaths.
Review: THE FACELESS ONE is a much slower pace horror novel than what I usually read and it’s interesting that the villain of the novel doesn’t technically do the killing. The villain, an uprooted god from the Gulf of Alaska, was one of many carefully guarded secrets of shamans. Accidentally released, the villain destroyed all remnants of the town in hope that no one would know how to defeat it.
But, the god missed one. Jimmy, whose uncle is a shaman, resides in a nursing home in the continental USA. It’s not until he dreams of the raven that he understands that the creature he met in his youth had been released.
Although I enjoyed the setup of the novel, I think that the slow pace ultimately kept me from enjoying the horror aspect of the novel for the first part of the book. As a whole, the story was well-told and the characters intriguing. I never knew what was going to happen next even at the end, which is remarkable considering that the story ended exactly how it should have.
For most of the novel, the villain is a nameless and bodiless killing machine. It’s not until the later chapters that it’s given a voice and personality. Those ending chapters were amazing, since I was so invested in the characters and story by that time. The chapters were fueled by a ticking time bomb that none of the characters knew quite how to counteract.
Stan is completely enthralling from the first time we meet him to the last time. He’s plagued with guilt and shame. Any other character would have killed themselves before doing what he does. It’s fascinating to witness his mental decline.
As with many horror books, there are quite a few deaths. No excessive gore or pointless deaths. If there was time invested in the character, then the author grants at least some purpose in killing each one. This villain, ultimately, has a very definite purpose and everything he does is to complete this task.