My Heart is a Chainsaw – by Stephen Graham Jones

Hi! My name is Theresa and I am not a Slasher film junkie. That is … I wasn’t one until I read My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones.

Let me explain … Slasher films were all the rage when I was a teen in the 80s. We had Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, to name a few. Obviously, if you read the first sentence of this review I can’t name many more than that – yet. Back in the 80s, movies didn’t cost an arm and a leg (literally??) for a kid to get into. I saw just about everything new that came to the big screen, including the slashers. But when the 90s hit, the slashers kept getting more slashier (is that a real term?), the movies kept getting more expensive, and I got pickier about what I spent my money to go see. The poor slashers lost out.

Flash forward a few decades or so (please don’t count them, I want to believe the 80s were just a few years ago, thank you very much). I come across this book by way of a group read being held in my GoodReads horror group. Sure – I’ll give it a try! Everyone’s talking about this author and I even have another one of his books on my TBR list. I’m so glad I gave this book a chance! The story is told from the perspective of Jade, a Native American girl finishing up her high school career in a small town with no friends, a terrible father, an absent mother, and a heart full of slasher lore. Between the narrative of what’s happening in the story we get to read Jade’s extra credit papers for her history class telling the history of the Slasher movie trope. Two distinct things happened to me as I read this book:

1) My heart broke in a million little pieces for Jade. If I could wrap my arms around a book and hug the character who lives inside, I would do this for her. She is so lost, lonely, but strong! She doesn’t even realize her own strength.

2) I found myself gaining a new level of respect for the Slasher trope. I even found myself wishing I had seen more of these lesser known movies and will probably look them up at some point. I learned so much from Jade’s wealth and depth of knowledge. I really became fascinated by it all.

Oh, and the rest of the story? You want to know what I think? It may seem a little slow to some, but for me it was just about perfect. I soaked up all this love for Jade and all this respect for slashers and then the pace of the book picked up and didn’t stop until the last page. Seriously! There were a few twists and turns that seemed a bit jumbled to me. Everything picked up so fast all at once I had to backtrack a bit to make sure I really did read what I thought I did. The plot seemed to get as choppy as the waters of Indian Lake the story is centered around. But it straightened itself out again. For those who like suspense, there was plenty of that. For those who enjoy gore, there’s a good bit of that too. Actually, quite a bit of it.

In closing, I’m happy to give this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The characters were solid and deserving of my love or loathing; the world they live in felt very real to me too. The story just needed a little more straightening out. But maybe it’s not so important for slashers to make sense all the way through. See, this is a point that I’m just not sure about … yet. I enjoyed it enough to put the next volume of the trilogy on my wish list!

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