MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW BY STEPHEN GRAHAM JONES

Slashers

If I had to pick one subgenre of horror films as my favorite I would probably have to go with the slasher. From Halloween and Michael Myers to Scream and Ghostface. Is it nostalgia, maybe? Spending the night at a friend’s house, eating cold pizza and drinking way too much Mt. Dew while staying up all hours of the night watching some masked killer stalk and murder his victims on the television. Experiencing those frightful instances of a jump scare while knowing deep down that I was safe and that the boogeyman wasn’t real (or is he?) Now take that slasher film, convert it into a novel and you’ll get MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW by Stephen Graham Jones. A love letter to the slasher film.

Meet our protagonist Jade. She is obsessed, and I mean absolutely obsessed with horror movies, and slasher films in particular. Honestly, for me Jade was a bit unlikable at first. Maybe unlikable isn’t quite the right word, a bit overbearing might be better? Jade is all about the slasher. Full of passion for the genre. She lives and breathes all things slasher. Twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. It got to the point where she was so hopeful with every fiber of her being that an actual killer would show up in her hometown of Proofrock and start murdering people just so that she could live and breathe the slasher experience firsthand. Jade was just too much for me up to a certain point where I thought that she was just crazy. A bit off her rocker. But then Jones’ expert storytelling kicked in and his ability to craft great characters transformed Jade from being someone I wasn’t sure I liked to me viewing her in a completely different light. There was a revelation of understanding as to why Jade is so absorbed and obsessed with slasher films. I won’t say why here, I’ll let you have that moment of discovery for yourself reader, but suffice it to say that it fully changed my opinion of Jade as a character.

Jade fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it) gets her wish as blood spills and people around town start to be killed off one by one. Is a masked killer on the loose or is it something more sinister from the town’s dark past come back for revenge? With all her years of accumulated knowledge of the slasher Jade sets out to predict who will be the next to die a gruesome death, the killer’s motives, who the man or woman behind the mask is, and who will be that final girl left standing bloodied but not beaten by the time the proverbial credits roll.

This is not a fast paced slasher with a tight hour and a half run time. After a bloody and brutal opening scene the book switches gears and we coast along in the slow lane. I am all for a slow burn of a book but this one was at times a bit too slow, even for me. Hold onto your hats though because as we approach the third and final act Jones dumps gasoline onto the fire setting up one of the most frantic and frenzied conclusions to a book I have ever read.

MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW by Stephen Graham Jones pays homage to the great films of the slasher genre while carving out a unique place of its own. It is far more than just a fun, bloody, and mindless slasher though. Jade’s story is about seeking acceptance. About how we all have an inherent need to feel loved and protected no matter how though we might act. Of finding that someone who is willing to fight for you, just as much as you’d fight for them. A slasher with a beating, revving heart, just like a chainsaw.

I received a digital ARC through Netgalley from the publisher for review consideration.

Brad Proctor

Brad Proctor

Reviewer

Book reviewer & Booktuber who focuses mostly on small press & indie horror, sci-fi, fantasy, & southern literature. 

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