My Heart is a Chainsaw – Stephen Graham Jones

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In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Jade feels like she’s trapped in a slasher film as tourists go missing and the tension between her community and the celebrity newcomers to the Indian Lake shore heads towards a tipping point, when she feels the killer will rise. Jade watches as the small town she knows and loves begins to head towards catastrophe as yachts compete with canoes and the celebrity rich change the landscape of what was designated park lands to develop what they call Terra Nova.

Staggeringly good.

More? Ok, fine.

My Heart is a Chainsaw is a love letter to classic slasher movies, with a main character who lives and breathes the genre, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the movies, and who can spot the clues starting to add up. Then the Final Girl arrives, and Jade must do whatever she can to help save the day.

It’s dark. It’s gory. It’s beautifully written, and uncomfortable to read in places. It’s a story about a small midwest town called Proofrock which faces an invasion of sorts by a bunch of super wealthy families across the lake which will change the dynamic of the town forever.

Jade, the half-Indian goth geek daughter of the town’s drunk, who escapes into the world of the slasher movie. Who writes essays to her English teacher about those movies and how they’re constructed and how they work. Those essays form interludes between chapters of the book, and add so much to the background of the story.

The book starts with a bang (or rather a scream) as a young holidaying couple arrive in Proofrock one night, never to be seen again. Events start to echo the slashers that Jade loves so much, and when the Final Girl, the daughter of one of the wealthy families from over the lake, turns up Jade knows that bad things are about to happen.

Stephen Graham Jones takes us on a journey in this book through Jade’s eyes, and it’s both fascinating and utterly heartbreaking. You’ll find yourself rooting for Jade all the way, but knowing how these movies turn out, your heart is in your mouth as we edge ever closer to the final showdown.

It’s a testament to Jones’ writing that I enjoyed this book so much, despite having limited exposure to the movies that he clearly loves so. I know the names, and the stories, but I’m a little too squeamish to enjoyed the shock-horror of the films. Though maybe after this I’ll give some of them another go, to see if I can see the as Jade does throughout this book.

Hugely recommended, though it’s not for the faint-hearted!

My Heart Is A Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones is published by Titan Books in the UK and is out now in paperback. I bought my copy after hearing great things about the book from @bluebookballon and @runalongwomble on twitter. Shameless booktempters both.

Author: dave

Book reviewer, occasional writer, photographer, coffee-lover, cyclist, spoon carver and stationery geek.

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