Book Review; My Heart Is A Chainsaw- Stephen Graham Jones

Page Count 416

Publication date September 2021

Publisher Titan

GoodReads link

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Synopsis

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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

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body.

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Review

My Heart Is A Chainsaw (MHIAC from now) opens on a pulse pounding chapter of fear and gore. Something about the way SGJ writes makes me really squirm, it’s that uncomfortable prickling of the skin like someone’s watching you.
As a kid I once watched a horror movie with the ground floor windows and curtains wide open onto the dark street behind me, I can’t describe the feeling eloquently enough to try but SJG writes it.

MHIAC is told from main character Jade’s perspective, split between a first person running monologue and ‘Slasher 101’; Jade’s obsessive guide to horror movies masquerading as what she claims are history essays. Slasher 101 is an almost encyclopaedic explanation of 90s horror movie tropes ,(if you haven’t seen all the classic slasher films but intend to some day then you’ll want to put this book down now, spoilers abound!), addressed to her school teacher Mr Holmes. The only person Jade feels is ever listening.

SJG has a talent for writing unreliable narrators that keep the reader uneasy whilst giving the subject a crazy shine to their figurative eye. You can feel yourself being pulled downward into the characters psyche as their thoughts spiral.
For me, I found MHIAC was tough going, Jade’s obsessive need to compare every event, big or small, to a slasher movie got tiresome quickly.
It became hard to disassociate Jade’s wild theories and day dreams from what was actually happening.

Now I loved slashers as a kid, I’ve seen every 90s horror flick going- though there are a few older ones referenced in MHIAC that I’d not seen, and now will never need to. It endeared me to Mr Holmes that he allowed Jade to wax lyrical on fictional movies in place of an actual history education, though at the same time I felt it was neglectful of him not to try and help his clearly troubled student.

There are some predictable reveals later and the book does pick up suddenly around 70% into a grand finale much like a movie slasher would. However the riotous mash up of screaming gore felt shallow to me and at no point was I genuinely scared or creeper out by this ‘horror’. My Heart Is A Chainsaw opens brilliantly and has great character building but overall felt like too many ideas jammed in over one week in a small town.

Features & Functions:

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

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