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My Heart Is a Chainsaw

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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: horro 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. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.


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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: horro 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. My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

30 review for My Heart Is a Chainsaw

  1. 4 out of 5

    Regina

    One of my favorite early reads of 2021 is now available! Like people, there are books that give and books that take. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a book that takes an awful lot from its readers. Patience. Concentration. An in-depth knowledge of slasher films and pop culture references. Tolerance of extreme gore - animal (elk) and human. The ability to sleep. A bit of your soul. I can honestly say I’ve never read a novel like this one. A half-Indian 17-year-old girl named Jade is so obsessed with slasher m One of my favorite early reads of 2021 is now available! Like people, there are books that give and books that take. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a book that takes an awful lot from its readers. Patience. Concentration. An in-depth knowledge of slasher films and pop culture references. Tolerance of extreme gore - animal (elk) and human. The ability to sleep. A bit of your soul. I can honestly say I’ve never read a novel like this one. A half-Indian 17-year-old girl named Jade is so obsessed with slasher movies that she’s convinced the plot of one is emerging in real life in her small Idaho town. Is she delusional and just seeing things she wants to see, or is there really a violent killer on the loose? After an intense opening chapter where very bad, very scary things happen to a young tourist couple from the Netherlands out on the town’s lake, the book downshifts and turns into the slowest of slow burns to acclimate readers to Jade’s life and mindset. Long expository third person chapters with long paragraphs and long sentences are punctuated with first person school papers Jade has written for history class, naturally all using her slasher-passion lens. Through these "Slasher 101" papers, we fill in our own gaps of horror movie knowledge and get foreshadowing of terrors to come. While those terrors do eventually arrive, it’s not until about the 60% mark that gore-seekers will get their payoff. The last 40% of the book is a knockout. You’ll white knuckle your copy while grimacing… and gagging. (My Heart is a Chainsaw might as well come with a “gags guaranteed!” sticker on the cover.) That black-and-white book cover design, with a slash going through it, feels very appropriate. This is a love-it-or-hate-it, no-gray-area read. There’s only a handful of people I’d recommend it to, but to those people I recommend it most highly. I’ll leave you with the ending. My Heart is a Chainsaw has the most unforgettable two concluding paragraphs of a novel I’ve probably ever encountered. I was so moved that I read them five or six times in a row, and I’m still thinking about them the next day. Stephen Graham Jones delivers a final gut punch that convinced me I couldn’t give his book anything less than five stars. The last things it took from me were my breath... then my heart. I’m grateful to Gallery Books and the author for the opportunity to read and review a gifted advance copy via NetGalley. Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Gory. Raw. Disturbing. Bleak. Challenging. Just let out your scream and get ready to expect the unexpected! If you’re not keen on choosing blood pumping, stomach churning, scaring you sh*tless kind of one of the most jaw dropping, wildest rides you may get, just buckle off, go back to your comfort zone, hide yourself under your bed or blanket whatever makes you feel safe from the monsters lurking around! Because this book forces you to face them . Oh quick correction: not only face them but you Gory. Raw. Disturbing. Bleak. Challenging. Just let out your scream and get ready to expect the unexpected! If you’re not keen on choosing blood pumping, stomach churning, scaring you sh*tless kind of one of the most jaw dropping, wildest rides you may get, just buckle off, go back to your comfort zone, hide yourself under your bed or blanket whatever makes you feel safe from the monsters lurking around! Because this book forces you to face them . Oh quick correction: not only face them but you gotta also destroy them to be the last one standing! I have to admit this book has one of the most disturbing zero opening/ prologue you may ever read. My eyes just popped out! I kept blabbering: wha wha whaaat the ffff...” Am I watching gory opening of European thriller? ( it reminded me of the bleakest Nordic thrillers) I cannot help myself! I want to scream , closing my book, running as fast as I could after that opening! But it already hooked me and dragged me to the story. I was possessed. I couldn’t stop to read it! It was addictive! Even though the author’s legendary present tense writing style was challenging for me to focus and the slow burn approach to present us the chaotic atmosphere of the town and its characters made me impatient, the deliciously intriguing parts started sooner after we learn more about inner demons of Jade Daniels: our heroine: a very tough, smart, has encyclopedic knowledge about slasher movies, missing her mom, struggling with her relationship with her dad, trying to honor her mother’s memory. She knows herself: she is not the last girl standing of slasher movies! But when her native town Proofrock turns into movie set of real-life slasher, she has to learn how to protect herself and teach her friend Letha how she handle the danger as a guy wearing gas mask, carrying axes or nail guns following you! Real life Jason Voorhees , Michael Myers are out there to catch you! But Letha focuses on the main reason why Jade is so obsessed with those movies. The reason behind her obsession is more heart wrenching than you can imagine. Overall: this is effective, quiet intense, bloody, terrifying story! The writing style is outstandingly sincere and unique! It’s not for everyone! But if you are true fan of the horror genre, this book is real treasure and outstanding gift to the literature world. Especially those movie references made the day of my inner geek who enjoys watching slasher movies since her childhood! Special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books/ Saga Press for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    “You sure you should be working around kids?” Jade asks. “Or even around, you know, living people?” “Tried the morgue in Boise,” he says. “There was . . . an incident. Ask your dad about it sometime, he was there.” Jade waits for him to guffaw or chuckle, because this has to be a joke, doesn’t it? -------------------------------------- “Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?” Before you sit down to read Stephen Graham Jones’s most recent nove “You sure you should be working around kids?” Jade asks. “Or even around, you know, living people?” “Tried the morgue in Boise,” he says. “There was . . . an incident. Ask your dad about it sometime, he was there.” Jade waits for him to guffaw or chuckle, because this has to be a joke, doesn’t it? -------------------------------------- “Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?” Before you sit down to read Stephen Graham Jones’s most recent novel (well, this week, anyway. The man produces King-ian, Asimov-ian volumes of work), My Heart is a Chainsaw, you might want to prepare a large bowl of popcorn, not that microwave crap, actual popcorn, kernels from a jar or bag into a pot with pre-heated oil, and a lid ready to pop over the top, to keep your kitchen floor from getting covered with flying bits. If you’re like me, there will be a second burner dedicated to melting a slab of butter. Once the popping stops, pour some or all of this heavenly treat into a large bowl. (Well it does not have to be too large as you are probably reading alone.) then drip the melted butter across the top, mix it up a bit. Open up a shaker of popcorn salt and apply. This calls for an oversize cold-drink for help in washing it down. It really should be a Friday or Saturday night. And why go to all this trouble for a book? Because Stephen Graham Jones is taking you to the movies. Cutting edge author, Stephen Graham Jones, on his way to work – image from 5280 Magazine - Photo by Aaron Colussi You may or may not have been around in the 1970s, 80s, 90s, or some of the other decades noted here, but videos of the films made back then have been available for a long time and formed a major part of Jones’s cinematic education as a young person. His life was considerably enriched from seeing a lot of horror movies, slasher films in particular. He loves them. Adrienne King as Alice Hardy in Friday the 13th – image from movieactors.com In this book, SGJ offers up an introductory class on the genre, or sub-genre. (Can’t say how closely it might mimic the course he taught on the subject in his day gig as a college professor. But I would love to see the syllabus for that.) in the form of chapters titled Slasher 101. These remind us, for example, that the slasher is always driven by revenge. His rage is not mindless. That there is usually a significant gap between the commission of the crime that is being avenged and the execution of that mission. That there is always a “final girl,” the purest of heart, who ultimately (usually) either escapes or bests the baddie, for the moment, anyway. In his 2015 novel, Aquarium, David Vann does something similar, calling attention to the structural girders being put in place as he places them, in his case for the literary novel form. Reads like these are always extra fun. Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers - in Scream - image from Den of Geek As Jones walks us through the stages in a slasher film, he echoes the tropes in the novel through his lead, Jade Daniels, a damaged seventeen-year-old Native girl who has seen and caused a huge amount of trouble. She seems to be in conflict with the world more or less constantly, but she is not a bad kid. She does janitorial work for the county. She is smart, resourceful, and a huge fan of horror, particularly slasher films, toting with her Jones’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre. She is maybe a bit too obsessed with this stuff. I mean, if your only tool is a hammer, every challenge begins to look like a nail. But what if you have, by pure chance, made yourself the perfect tool for this very prominent, thin piece of metal sticking straight up out of your town. A bloated tourist body floats to the top of the lake and blood starts flowing like the elevator at the Overlook. Jade knows, or at least thinks she knows, what’s coming. JLC at Laurie Strode in Halloween - you don’t get to choose your family - image from Den of Geek She writes reports (the twelve Slasher 101 chapters) for a favorite teacher, one Mister Holmes (Grady, (which reminded me of Delbert Grady of The Shining fame) not Sherlock), each one explaining one or more of the tropes of horror films. Each trope is summoned into being in the real world, of course, making this very meta. Metafiction is a form of fiction which emphasises its own constructedness in a way that continually reminds the audience to be aware they are reading or viewing a fictional work. - definition from WikiJade lives in Proofrock, Idaho, proud possessor of several of the elements native to slasher flicks. Teenagers, of course. A lake (Indian Lake) with its own historical spook, Stacey Graves, bent on avenging wrongs done to her family, Stacey Stacey Stacey Graves Born to put you in your grave You see her in the dark of night And once you do you're lost from sight Look for water, look for blood Look for footprints in the mud You never see her walk on grass Don't slow down, she'll get your-- a camp on the lake with its own sanguinary history, and LOL name, Camp Blood, as least that’s what everyone in town calls it. Fifty years ago it earned that designation with extreme prejudice. Robert Englund as Freddie Krueger – from Nightmare 3 - What a Rush! - image from Screen Rant There is not a lot going on in Proofrock, (which MUST BE a reference to T.S. Eliot’s first published poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, which, according to Wiki, is a dramatic interior monologue of an urban man, stricken with feelings of isolation and an incapability for decisive action that is said "to epitomize frustration and impotence of the modern individual" and "represent thwarted desires and modern disillusionment.") Jade provides that inner take here. She certainly experiences isolation, and endures frustration and impotence, not to mention personal abuse. Jade is both wishing for the slasher to be real and for him not to be real. Great, if it is. You were right all along. Take a bow. On the other hand, you are likely to be killed. Hmmm, decisions, decisions. She is actually eager for the inevitable bloodbath to begin, finding this strangely exciting. Well, maybe not so strange for a kid with suicidal impulses. She’s got her reasons. Jane Levy (yes, that Zoe) as Mia Allen in Evil Dead 2013 - Image from Screenrant Jade is a Cassandra (another slasher film trope) trying to tell everyone that dire days lie ahead, but no one believes her. The new wrinkle in Proofrock, Idaho is the arrival of The Founders, a group of billionaire families who managed to have some of the national forest on the other side of the lake made un-national, and have begun building an enclave, Terra Nova. Yachts and smuggler boats have begun to appear on the lake, homes are being erected. And the daughter of the alpha male of that crowd befriends Jade. Letha Mondragon (are we meant to think or Arthur Pendragon here?) fits right in with Jade’s narrative. She is the supreme final girl. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, it was coined by Carol J. Clover in 1992. The original meaning of "final girl", as described by Clover in 1992, is quite narrow. Clover studied slasher films from the 1970s and 1980s (which is considered the golden age of the genre) and defined the final girl as a female who is the sole survivor of the group of people (usually youths) who are chased by a villain, and who gets a final confrontation with the villain (whether she kills him herself or she is saved at the last minute by someone else, such as a police officer), and who has such a "privilege" because of her implied moral superiority (for example, she is the only one who refuses sex, drugs, or other such behaviors, unlike her friends). - from WikiThink Alice Hardy in Friday the 13th, Laurie Strode in Halloween, Nancy Thompson in A Nightmare on Elm Street and on and on and on. Sigourney as Ripley in Alien – Get away from her, you bitch! - image from Yahoo! Entertainment The good-girl element of the final girl trope eased over time, offering more kick-ass than kiss-ass, with final girls like Ripley in the Alien series, or Jamie Lee Curtis sticking it to Jason in Halloween. Jade spots Letha as the final girl of the upcoming carnival of blood. She is a really good person, and an actual model, with unbelievable skin. She is athletic, morally strong, and seems to have been sent over from central casting. She is also unbelievably hot, and Jade has a bit of a crush on her. Nevertheless, Jade determines to do everything in her power to see to it that Letha has the weapons and knowledge she needs to go to battle in the inevitable final bloodbath, aka The Body Dump. Marilyn Burns as Sally Hardesty in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - image from BitchMedia But we know, or at least suspect, since the slasher film story is usually told from the perspective of the final girl, that maybe Letha is not the one. I wanted to push back against the notion of the final girl being a supermodel, valedictorian, or babysitter. Since the 1970s, they’ve all been Jennifer Love Hewitt types. For many girls and women, that’s an impossible ideal. The book’s main character, Jade, has dealt with feelings of inadequacy her whole life. Also, most of the victims are rich and entitled white guys, not 17-year-old cheerleaders. - from the 5280 interviewThe mystery is who (or what) is perpetrating mayhem, and why. That satisfies the need, or, certainly, a desire, for a mystery. Slasher movie bloodlettings are acts of revenge. Ok. So, what is it that is being revenged, why, and by whom? The how is where movie directors and novelist get to come up with creative ways to pare back, sometimes waaaaay back, the character list. Heather Langengkamp as Nancy Thompson in Friday the 13th - image from StopButton Jones always keeps an eye on social content, payload that arrives with the story. It, or at least some of it, usually has to do with Native people and their relationship with the white world in which they are embedded. Very real-world stuff. No Magic Indians need apply. The presenting issue here is gentrification, an invasion by the Uber-rich into a very working class area, upsetting everything, taking public land for private use, trying to buy their way into acceptance, while toting along a significant shortage of moral concern. There is also the existence of racist elements in the town and the Native people getting the lesser end of things economically. When people in Proofrock can direct their binoculars across the water to see how the rich and famous live, that’s only going to make them suddenly aware of how they’re not living, with their swayed-in fences, their roofs that should have been re-shingled two winters ago, their packed-dirt driveways, their last decade’s hemlines and shoulder pads, because fashion takes a while to make the climb to eight thousand feet. Secondary characters run a gamut. Some are cannon fodder, of course, but there is a nice collection of understandable town characters. Jade’s teacher, Holmes, is wonderfully understanding, and has plenty of quirk (and anger) to support it. The town sheriff is a remarkably sympatico sort, with a soft spot for Jade. He may not understand, or accept what she tells him (she is a Cassandra, after all, and there is the very real possibility that he might be hiding something) but he seems to be quite well-intentioned. Her father is a horror, and his bff may be even worse. There is sympathy for Jade in surprising places. They know something we do not. The Founders are mostly cardboard cutouts, which is fine. And then there is Letha (last name not Weapon). While presented as impossibly perfect, she is the one member of that clan given a closer look. Is she or isn’t she what Jade sees her to be, a paragon of final girlhood? Jennifer Love Hewitt as Julie James in I Know What You Did Last Summer - image from ScreenRant Throughout the novel, there is a pervasive sense of humor. The quote at the top of the review is a prime example of that. There is more. Not sayin’ you’re gonna shoot your beverage of choice out your nose, but there is plenty here that will make you smile. ...if you don't have those staged resets, those laughs, then horror just becomes the flat screech, and that's no fun. - from the GQ interviewGRIPES Not much. The deus was messing with his ex, machina, a bit too much for my taste. I could not fathom why Jade was not more curious when a stranger’s cell phone falls into her hands. And I was not entirely thrilled with the last bit of the ending. But these are minor concerns. My Heart is a Chainsaw is both a jaw-dropping, brilliant homage to the slasher genre, and a bonafide member of the club. Sharni Vinson as Erin Harson in You’re Next – image from Wicked Horror So, when you read this, takes notes, consider all that is going on. There will be a test. Pass/Fail. Pass, and you gain three college credits toward your degree. Fail? Well, trust me, you really, really do not want to fail. She’s everything Jade always wished she could have been, had she not grown up where she did, how she did, with who she did. It’s going to be epic, the final battle, the final girl against slasher high noon. Unless Jade’s just making it all up, she reminds herself. Review posted – August 27, 2021 Publication date – August 31, 2021 I received an eARE of My Heart is a Chainsaw from Saga Press of Simon & Schuster in return for a fair review and some extra-strength fishing-hooks. Thanks to S&S, and to NetGalley for facilitating. ==========In the summer of 2019 GR reduced the allowable review size by 25%, from 20,000 to 15,000 characters. In order to accommodate the text beyond that I have moved it to the comments section directly below. Tonight, August 27, 2021, there has been another no-notice change made to GR posting rules, showing massive disrespect to those of us who post reviews. It would have been nice to have been heard on this before it was implemented. External links will no longer be allowed in comments. Are you kidding me? The main reason I have to use the comments section at all is that GR, also with zero notice, as noted above, reduced the allowable review text by 25%. Are they trying to drive out people like me? It sure feels like it. Doing this with no notice is extremely poor form. Color me bloody livid! Now, where's my chainsaw? It looks like we have found a solution to the ever-tightening GR restrictions. I have posted the entire review on my much-neglected personal site, Coot's Reviews. It will be getting cranked up again.

  4. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    **4.5-stars rounded up** My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent, brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It's also one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint. I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good. Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased. Normally, I would try to find another person wit **4.5-stars rounded up** My Heart Is a Chainsaw is Stephen Graham Jones most recent, brilliant, love letter to the Slasher genre. It's also one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint. I actually finished this on September 2nd. Subsequently, I wrote a full review, which if I do say so myself, was pretty darn good. Then due to major stupidity on my part, my laptop got inadvertently shutdown and all of my efforts were erased. Normally, I would try to find another person within striking distance to blame, but unfortunately, there was just me, my dog and a potentially haunted ceiling fan. But I digress... Jade Daniels is a social outcast in her small, lakeside town of Proofrock, Idaho. A half-Indian girl, forced to live with her abusive father, Jade changes her hair color often and views the world through a prism of her vast knowledge of the Horror genre. As her high school career comes to a close, there's not much on the horizon for Jade. She works as a janitor for the local public school system, and it seems she may be doing so into the future. That in and of itself is fine. If she could just stay away from her Dad and his pervy friend, it would be okay. When mysterious events around town start mirroring the plot structure of her favorite genre, however, Jade knows it's finally happening. She's excited by the prospect. Proofrock has a slasher on their hands! Therefore, she does what any logical Horror aficionado would do and tracks down the most logical choice for final girl, so she may teach her how to save herself and the town. Sure, there will be a high body count, that's a given. It's almost time for the annual 4th of July celebration, after all and we all know Slashers cannot resist events like that, but the final girl should still be able to stop him. Eventually. I'm always amazed by how much Jones can pack into a story. Each page feels like a Master Class in the Horror genre; full of references and rules that make my heart soar. In addition to that though, he always doses us full of hard-hitting real world issues as well. There are many layers here, as there are in other novels of his that I have read. This story was so much fun to read. It's intricate, gritty, bloody, gory, smart, sarcastic, biting and fierce. The writing is top-notch and it's going to remain in my mind for a long time to come. Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am sure there are a lot of things I am forgetting to mention about this, but what can I say? I'm silenced by greatness!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mort

    MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is a love letter to horror – specifically slashers – movies from an expert on the genre. Stephen Graham Jones can spin a hell of a yarn. However, while I was hoping this one would make me say “Voulez-vous de beurre?” (Yes, it means “Do you want some butter?”) like Kevin did to Madeline in French class in THE WONDER YEARS [1], it ended up being more like Ross yelling at Rachel “It was 18 pages! Front and back!” in FRIENDS [2]. Oh yes, my friends, it’s going to be one of thos MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is a love letter to horror – specifically slashers – movies from an expert on the genre. Stephen Graham Jones can spin a hell of a yarn. However, while I was hoping this one would make me say “Voulez-vous de beurre?” (Yes, it means “Do you want some butter?”) like Kevin did to Madeline in French class in THE WONDER YEARS [1], it ended up being more like Ross yelling at Rachel “It was 18 pages! Front and back!” in FRIENDS [2]. Oh yes, my friends, it’s going to be one of those reviews, so buckle the fuck up! [1] www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhRTnRfe8nQ In the late eighties, there was a TV show called THE WONDER YEARS, and since I was close to the age of the main character, Kevin, and somewhat of a dreamer, I connected to it in a big way. Now, if you are unaware – yes, this is the way my mind works with all the useless trivia – it starred a kid called Fred Savage. If you don’t know who that is, the biggest thing I have seen him in since was in one of the AUSTIN POWERS movies…here’s a clue – Mooooole. The theme song was the Joe Cocker version of “With a little help from my friends”, and I never saw the music video until the very late 1990’s, because it had the pictures of the women with the titties. Bored yet? You should be, so let’s move on. [2] www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsvsRZhNVp4 So, if you are the one who didn’t watch FRIENDS, you should be ashamed of yourself! I may be able to forgive you if you are too young, but catch up on the reruns, kid, it’s worth it. Were they on a break? Let’s not open that can of worms again. I’m going to throw a comparison out there which may surprise you, but this one reminded me of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. Not the story, there are no similarities I can think of, but the back story in that book (it was a 600+ pages book, if I remember correctly) took so fucking long to get through. Now, I had seen the movie before I read the book, so I knew there would be a pay-off toward the end, which is probably the only reason I managed to push through to the exciting part of the story. It took forever, I’m pretty sure a few plants seeded and later died of old age by the time I was done. The author put me through so much unnecessary shit. I felt like…like…I wanted to say to him what Walter Matthau had said in GRUMPIER OLD MEN: “Why don't you do the world a favor. Pull your bottom lip up over your head and swallow.” (I looked for the YouTube clip but couldn’t find it, sorry). And then I heard Stieg Larsson had died already and I felt bad for thinking such malicious thoughts about somebody I never even knew… So, yeah, my mind went to this: [3] “What am I guilty of?” For the sake of decency, just check out the answer on the clip: clip.cafe/the-gentlemen-2019/what-am-... So, people, are you wondering when I am actually going to say something about the book? Not much fun, reading and reading and reading and…basically, hoping for the pay-off. And here it is: This is a damn fine slasher story which spent way too much time on the build-up. If you can get to 69%, it is all fun and games from there. My honest opinion is, if I hadn’t read some of the raving reviews by people whose opinion I trust, I am fairly sure I would have called it quits at 50%. I took a break and read two other novellas before I got back to it. But, like THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was a huge success all over the world, readers might be more forgiving than I expect, and this book might be as successful as it deserves to be. I can’t fault the story, so patience will be rewarded... My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Stephen Graham Jones for this ARC. My opinions are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    3.5 stars "Horror is my religion." This book, in a way, is a love letter to slasher movies and slasher movies fans! There are so many references to slasher movies, characters, scenes, etc. I LOVED the Horror facts! Plus, the entire book played out in my mind as an 80's horror movie (those being my favorites). The opening scene grabbed me right away! I wanted to yell, what you are doing is a recipe for disaster.... Jade, the main character was an interesting character in that sometimes I liked her, o 3.5 stars "Horror is my religion." This book, in a way, is a love letter to slasher movies and slasher movies fans! There are so many references to slasher movies, characters, scenes, etc. I LOVED the Horror facts! Plus, the entire book played out in my mind as an 80's horror movie (those being my favorites). The opening scene grabbed me right away! I wanted to yell, what you are doing is a recipe for disaster.... Jade, the main character was an interesting character in that sometimes I liked her, other times not so much. But she had some great lines and was a horror film expert who lives in her own world. Her father is abusive (to put it mildly), she has an absent mother and the town, well, I do not think they know how to take her let alone know what to do with her. She is an expert on horror, final girls (don't' confuse her with one) and what makes a killer tick (injustice). "...final girls are the vessel we keep all of our hopes in." But when bad things begin to happen on Indian Lake (not to be confused with Camp Crystal Lake), her extensive knowledge of horror films helps her predict how things are going to unfold. Through this we learn more about Jade, her past and her vulnerabilities. Horror. Revenge. Triumph So, this one is a hard one to rate and I wanted to sit with this book to think things over. So, after the beginning, which was fantastic, things got slow...as in really slow. I am not one for slow burns so this could be the case of it was me and not the book. But it took some hanging in there. I also had to get acclimated to the author's style of writing. I desperately wanted something to hurry up and happen. But I had to bide my time. Not everything in horror films happens off the bat, sometimes you must wait for it. So, I waited, and waited, and waited...and then you-know-what hit the fan! That later part of the book is where the magic (blood) begins to flow. Who will be safe? Who is the killer? Final Girl? So, how to rate this book???? Parts were too slow for my liking, then there were these mesmerizing passages, the horror trivia that put a smile on this horror film lover's face, and the killer last part of the book.... what a dilemma. Originally, I gave this book a 3-star rating, but I have decided to go with 3.5 stars rounded up. The ending really did make up for the slowness. Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    My favourite book of the year so far! Five glorious, gory stars. Jade lives and breathes slasher movies. Nearly every thought she has is consumed with them. Jade’s coping mechanism is watching and analyzing these slasher movies in order to manage the pain she feels living with her abusive father and absent mother. Jade is half-indigenous and feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When a dead tourists body shows up in Indian Lake Jade thinks this is the beginning of a slasher movie come to life, My favourite book of the year so far! Five glorious, gory stars. Jade lives and breathes slasher movies. Nearly every thought she has is consumed with them. Jade’s coping mechanism is watching and analyzing these slasher movies in order to manage the pain she feels living with her abusive father and absent mother. Jade is half-indigenous and feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When a dead tourists body shows up in Indian Lake Jade thinks this is the beginning of a slasher movie come to life, and well, she’s not wrong. She uses her encyclopedic knowledge of slasher flicks to predict how it will turn out. Jade’s brain is a confusing place to be. There are times when she’s not sure if she’s awake or dreaming, and as the reader, it sometimes felt like that as well. Have you seen those Tiktok videos of a voiceover saying “do you ever look at someone and wonder what is going on inside their head?” And it plays that electronic music? And the video usually shows someone behaving kind of strangely? Jade’s headspace reminds me of that. I love her, but she is quite the character with an expansive imagination. Needless to say, I loved this book! The more I think about it, the more I am obsessed with it. Not only does this book have gore, but it also delves into deeper discussions. Like what it means to be indigenous in an environment that doesn’t care, what it means to be forgotten. How neocolonialism affects indigenous communities today. As other reviewers have already said, this book is a bit slow in the beginning and requires concentration, but is a wild ride in the last quarter, or so. In my opinion, the payoff is huge. Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and author for a digital ARC of this book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    ELLIAS (elliasreads)

    ....feels like she's trapped in a slasher film.... SAY NO FUCKING MORE OMG GIMMIE!!!! ....feels like she's trapped in a slasher film.... SAY NO FUCKING MORE OMG GIMMIE!!!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    This book is dark as hell but is one of the best things I've read all year. A love-letter to slasher horror on the surface, but it explores so many deep topics in such a beautiful way...race, neglect, class. Such a powerful book. This book is dark as hell but is one of the best things I've read all year. A love-letter to slasher horror on the surface, but it explores so many deep topics in such a beautiful way...race, neglect, class. Such a powerful book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Prior to this novel, the only book by Stephen Graham Jones I had read was "Night of the Mannequins." A book that would be kind for me just to say that I hated rather than express more thoughts on. It was a book that based on the plot description sounded like good old slasher fun, with more than a hint of deconstruction to it… the plot I got was not something I was personally interested in. It was frustrating and not a book I enjoyed. I planned on not reading beyond that, thinking perhaps Jones j Prior to this novel, the only book by Stephen Graham Jones I had read was "Night of the Mannequins." A book that would be kind for me just to say that I hated rather than express more thoughts on. It was a book that based on the plot description sounded like good old slasher fun, with more than a hint of deconstruction to it… the plot I got was not something I was personally interested in. It was frustrating and not a book I enjoyed. I planned on not reading beyond that, thinking perhaps Jones just wasn't for me. Then I saw the title of this book. "My Heart is a Chainsaw" and I read the plot description… that utterly beautiful plot discription promising a love letter to the movies I grew up enjoying. "Fine, you win Jones. One more chance to impress me." (Given the praise he's received, I'm sure impressing me wasn't on his to do list… but, well… yeah.) Oh, it impressed me. It also depressed me. Let me get this one out of the way. This book is an emotional rollercoaster for me as a reader, but it's not one that I think will hit every reader. I started off practically cheering for the book when it referenced things like "Bay of Blood" and "Just Before Dawn" (I mean, sure it references Scream and Elm Street and the other big ones, but deep cuts like those… EXCELLENT), but the more we learned about our lead the less I was cheering. I started connecting to her and shaking my head because damn it, I connect to teenage horror girl far more than most literary characters because it's closer to what I was as a teenager than pretty much any other lead I can think of. Her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films being her fall back to any awkward conversation, being held up like a shield against the world. Things get too rough? Ask yourself "What would Jason do?" and get through the day in a fantasy. She's not in a fantasy anymore though. Patterns are rising and every good horror fan can recognize them immediately. She needs to find a final girl, she needs to tutor her in the ways of surviving a slasher movie… and she needs to remain the background character she sees herself as. Jones proves himself an excellent writer in this one. He hits note for note what you expect in a slasher, but he's also telling a much deeper story. One you may not even notice at first, but I assure you all the clues are there from the start. He pulls it off with a grace one would not expect from this particular sub-genre… but to an extent, that is part of the joke. He wants you to re-evaluate slashers and see that they can hold different meanings and interpretations (up to including essays from our lead at the end of chapters discussing various tropes and themes). Is this a perfect book? No. I have one pretty big complaint. It's an extreme slow burn horror novel for a good portion of the page count. I honestly don't typically have an issue with this and even delight in the build up in say… a haunted house novel. The problem is this isn't a haunted house novel, it is a slasher, and slashers burn bright and fast. They're known for having very little downtime and a constant kill count… in this aspect I feel the tone of the novel conflicts with the homage… on the other hand, what he gives us is a much deeper story than most slashers could ever hope to achieve. In the end I give this a solid 4/5 stars and my highest recommendation to all horror fans. You win Jones, I'll give you other books a try as well. My thanks to Netgalley and Gallery / Saga Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars This is a fantastic horror novel that infuses Native American culture into the traditionally white slasher narrative.  This book is basically a love letter to the slasher genre. The main character is obsessed with the subgenre, constantly referencing the killers and final girls of the most iconic. The movie references made the story very fun and entertaining. I'll admit that I still need to watch a lot of those slasher movies and unfortunately I did get spoiled a few times. I really enjo 4.0 Stars This is a fantastic horror novel that infuses Native American culture into the traditionally white slasher narrative.  This book is basically a love letter to the slasher genre. The main character is obsessed with the subgenre, constantly referencing the killers and final girls of the most iconic. The movie references made the story very fun and entertaining. I'll admit that I still need to watch a lot of those slasher movies and unfortunately I did get spoiled a few times. I really enjoyed the Slasher 101 essays included between the chapters, which added a light and humorous touch to the novel. Fans of Only The Good Indians will be very happy with this follow up novel. Once again, Stephen Graham Jones manages to weave  Native American culture into a horror narrative in a fresh and innovative way. Compared to the previous novel, I found this one more accessible with a more simple plot. I found this one less scary, but more fun with a lighter tone. My main criticism is that I found the narrative to be a bit disjointed and rather slow. The middle section just felt unnecessarily long and I personally would have preferred a tighter story.  Regardless, I really enjoyed this one. I would highly recommend this novel to just about any horror fans, particularly movie buffs who will appreciate the references even more than I did. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    My thanks to Stephen Graham Jones, Gallery and Netgalley. I don't know what to say about this book. It took 50 to 60% before it even got going. Once it did, I was hooked! But, it was a long start. I loved most of the characters. But Jade? She and her single minded obsession made for tough reading. The last 30% was good. I just don't believe that any book should take so long to finally get interesting. Also, this "slasher" quickly became something else. Just wait and 👀see! Still, that bloody, murde My thanks to Stephen Graham Jones, Gallery and Netgalley. I don't know what to say about this book. It took 50 to 60% before it even got going. Once it did, I was hooked! But, it was a long start. I loved most of the characters. But Jade? She and her single minded obsession made for tough reading. The last 30% was good. I just don't believe that any book should take so long to finally get interesting. Also, this "slasher" quickly became something else. Just wait and 👀see! Still, that bloody, murderbath ending! 3 1/2 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 4.75* of five, rounded up because my personal ew-icks over slasher films shouldn't count that heavily in judging a book that's utterly upfront about what it is I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: There are all sorts of ways to read a Stephen Graham Jones book. Surfaces work...there's always a story hanging around, you won't be wandering lost in thickets of writing-armpit sweat-watered weeds...references work too, you can unpick your memories of the Real Rating: 4.75* of five, rounded up because my personal ew-icks over slasher films shouldn't count that heavily in judging a book that's utterly upfront about what it is I RECEIVED A DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA NETGALLEY. THANK YOU. My Review: There are all sorts of ways to read a Stephen Graham Jones book. Surfaces work...there's always a story hanging around, you won't be wandering lost in thickets of writing-armpit sweat-watered weeds...references work too, you can unpick your memories of the midnight movies or frightfrests your friends threw (or open IMDb if you're really young)...but I think the best way is to make it through as it's happening, to be there as Jade walks across the graduation stage or through walls or up into skies limited only by the basic laws of physics. The reason I feel that last works best is that, by the time I'd reached the end of this read, and then read Author Stephen's Acknowledgments after the wrenching and impossibly sad final scene, I was so wrung out that I simply accepted that everything I'd just been through had been intended to do what it did to me. As I'm not one to write book reports (ask Mr. Singleton! never turned so much as one in during high school) I'm not going to try to do that at this late date. I referred to this book's immediate older sibling, The Only Good Indians, as "gore with more" and that's an assessment I stand by as applied to all of Author Stephen's books. Part of that "more" is the strangely hypnotic effect of the story arc receding from view...the interstitial "SLASHER 101" essays addressed to the One Good Teacher (of history, naturally) Mr. Holmes are well and truly weirding Your Faithful Reader out. When they switch addressees, it gets even weirder...but in the end, it's painfully intimate and deeply instructive to read them. In common with all Author Stephen's books, you mere peon of a purchaser have no rights. You're not stupid, you've read some of his other work (at least The Only Good Indians!), you're aware that horror is in store. So surrender your volition. Then the entire experience of being in Jade Daniels's rage-filled head makes all the sense in the world. Because then you're not actually sure if ANY of this is happening in meatspace. Is this an adolescent with anger and abandonment issues responding to the end of what never was childhood? Is this a young woman processing the pain and rage of a life that was wished on her by weaker, worse people than she was? There's a sparkling moment of fizzing delight when Jade meets Letha, a beautiful rich kid whose father has a trophy wife and whose presence in the town of "Proofrock" (think a minute, and hard, for more than the surface snicker; that's all it takes to turn it into a shiver), when Jade anoints her "the Final Girl." That's both when the tale gets grounded in consensus reality and when its ascent into the dark and cold vault of Jade's own head is cemented. I'm always a fan of gerunding done with panache...Author Stephen does it with panache. At one point, Jade Holden Caulfields across a lawn, and that's me dead cackling. I think there are few greater pleasures than easter-egging your readers' experience...hoping they'll get most of them. I think the fun of reading a book whose author has chosen a niche to write in, one with an astoundingly vast mythos/history/background to explore, is in part the recognition factor of word-play. Yes, it's about slasher-film homage, and no Holden Caulfield isn't slashed to death (though generations of English students have no doubt fantasized that Salinger met that fate after writing it), but he *is* the prototype of the Angsty Teen too smart for easy answers. With everything Jade's carrying around, she's not one whit less burdened than Holden and possibly by some similar troubles given that she's got A Thing growing up strong for Letha. Adolescent sexuality is always fraught. Parents play their roles in shaping it, either with rule or without them, with clamp-downs or without supervision, there's no right way to ride this roller-coaster. But the issue facing Jade isn't made any easier by her absolute conviction that Letha is The Final Girl, that staple of the slasher film, therefore of necessity being lustrous and almost superhuman in her glorious Otherness. That's how she's supposed to be, right? Jade "doesn't make the rules...just happens to know them all." Her unique and defining obsession with slashers is gong to pay dividends, right? Because she's preparing the Final Girl for her role, unlike most...she won't be surprised by the tragedies. I think I speak for all readers when I say that the way this blows up can only be described as FUCKING EPIC. And from that point on, the cigarette boat is away and the pace does not let up. There are the obligatory twists and turns, the reveals that aren't *quite* reveals, and the accustomed ways that Author Stephen's practiced to get your kishkes kicking and your shvitzer sprinkling. You can't fault the man on delivering the suspenseful goods! If you're in the market for a low-gore delivery of suspense, however, look elsewhere. The way this works is for your expectations to be manipulated so I won't be discussing particulars. Suffice to say I was taken in. More than once. And I'm a pretty well-broken-in reader.... Still, there's no point it wondering why no good deed goes unpunished or how exactly it is that one's expected to walk away from what can not help but feel like a set up straight from a film. The pain and the passionate pull of it will reach some screeching crescendo, won't it, just give it a little more time and it has to! Nonsense, says the Great God Author. By the time we've reached the moment when there is no more to give, when the entire story's gone to the most extreme place that it can go...there is something more in the tank for a send-off, and there's no way that you'll believe your eyes when you get there. Some things just can't be put right. And others can't be left wrong. The issue is...who decides.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann

    Review originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... “Do you like scary movies?”- Scream (1996) Sometimes movies take their inspiration from books and sometimes books are inspired by movies. In the case of My Heart is a Chainsaw, author Stephen Graham Jones lets his “horror movie fan” flag fly inside the soul of his teenage protagonist, Jade Daniels. Not only is Jade a horror movie cinephile, but slasher films are the framework of support she has built around herse Review originally published at Cemetery Dance: https://www.cemeterydance.com/extras/... “Do you like scary movies?”- Scream (1996) Sometimes movies take their inspiration from books and sometimes books are inspired by movies. In the case of My Heart is a Chainsaw, author Stephen Graham Jones lets his “horror movie fan” flag fly inside the soul of his teenage protagonist, Jade Daniels. Not only is Jade a horror movie cinephile, but slasher films are the framework of support she has built around herself out of self-preservation. She is an outcast at her school, a burden to her dysfunctional family, and part of a marginalized community in her small town of Proofrock, Idaho. To cope, she loses herself in the comfort and dependability of formulaic horror tropes. At first, Jade comes off so strong on the page, it’s difficult to relate, but give it time. She grows on you. In between glimpses of Jade’s bleak home life and scenes at school, life in Proofrock is getting interesting. There’s a new housing development called Terra Nova, catering to a specific demographic. Members of high society are enticed by Terra Nova and targeted by a killer. The local authorities are pressured to get a lead in their investigation and make Proofrock “great again. Of course, Daniels, with her extensive knowledge of horror tropes, is also on the case (much to the annoyance of resident officials and grownups). This story has a totally different vibe than Graham’s huge 2020 hit, The Only Good Indians. Readers showing up for a similar storytelling tone should set early expectations for Chainsaw to be somewhat lighter horror fare. Jade is quirky, unpredictable, and sassy, which makes for some hilarious dialogue exchanges with other characters. It’s fun being in Jade’s head as she wrestles with her potential as the town’s “final girl.” Jones generously seasons the plot with slasher movie references. Those unschooled in the ways of “slash & bash” can either feel totally out of their element or choose to embrace it as a learning opportunity. The recommendation is to hang on and go for the ride. The payoff is worth it in this modern coming-of-age horror story capitalizing on themes of revenge and redemption.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    4.5 bloodyyyy stars The true horror of this novel has nothing to do with the gore or the slashers. This was deceptively stunning. Concept: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ 1/2 Plot layers: ★★★★★ Overall impact: ★★★★★ Oof. How do I review this one. On the one hand, I want to start with the hard spoilers and work my way backward because I haven't see many reviews addressing the elements that I want to talk about. But on the other hand, half of this novel's brilliance comes from the reveals and final steps. I guess we' 4.5 bloodyyyy stars The true horror of this novel has nothing to do with the gore or the slashers. This was deceptively stunning. Concept: ★★★★★ Pacing: ★★ 1/2 Plot layers: ★★★★★ Overall impact: ★★★★★ Oof. How do I review this one. On the one hand, I want to start with the hard spoilers and work my way backward because I haven't see many reviews addressing the elements that I want to talk about. But on the other hand, half of this novel's brilliance comes from the reveals and final steps. I guess we'll see how this goes. My Heart is a Chainsaw was stunning. I had to read it roughly 1.5 times to get to this 5 star rating—let me explain. For the first third, I was NOT feeling the story. As someone who hated Catcher in the Rye for Holden's annoying internal monologues and meandering prose, the main character of Chainsaw, Jade, fit that bill too closely for my tastes. I wanted to reach into the pages and "make her stay on track, dang it!" Lots of pop culture slasher references, meandering thoughts, unlikeable character traits, the whole nine yards and then some. But then some reveals hit us around 1/3-1/2 mark, and I was floored. Absolutely floored. So now, at the halfway point of the novel for the first read, I went back to the beginning. I needed to see what I'd missed and see how the author had gotten us here—because clearly Jade had done what she'd intended to do... which was hide the truth from us and herself. So let's just say that if you're not feeling Jade or the pacing of the novel on your first read, you're not alone. But it is disturbingly worth it. This is a novel filled with guts and gore and slashers and horror. Not a single review disputes that. But it's also about Jade. It's about what she's not saying and not addressing—and yet putting in these pages like Morse code. It's about the true horror behind the curtain and the mind's way of (not) coping with reality. It's about our fantasies, our dreams deferred turned dark and deep, our use of pop culture to explain our present and idealize our future. To touch on the surface plot for a bit, I found the slasher elements of this novel to be interesting. As someone who loves new horror trends and never quite got into the old-school slashers that Jade loves to reference, I didn't find it hard to follow. Maybe a bit heavy-handed, but isn't that the mode of the slasher in the first place? I'm giving this five stars for Stephen Graham Jones' stunning interplay between surface plot and subplot, and his way of taking the familiar "outside" horror that we see in the movies and using it as a mask for the darker, intimate horrors that cut deeper. A strong novel with a bleak outlook on truth and life and personhood, this is one that will linger with me for a long time. Thank you to Gallery Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gabby

    DNF at 250 pages I wanted to love this so badly but it was sooooo boring I just couldn’t do it anymore 😭😭😭 I think I prefer this authors books in short story format, this just felt unnecessarily long.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alma Katsu

    A homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre. You don't have to be a slasher fan to read My Heart is a Chainsaw, but I guarantee that you will be after you read it. A homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre. You don't have to be a slasher fan to read My Heart is a Chainsaw, but I guarantee that you will be after you read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allison Faught

    This book might not be for everyone. In fact, I can guarantee it won’t be. But for those of you who it grabs ahold of, it won’t let go… DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!! It starts off really really slow which has never been my favorite, but once you get past that threshold of ‘I don’t know what’s going on’, you start to get comfortable with the feel and flow of the book. Jones is quite the storyteller. Warning: Do NOT eat while reading this book, specifically the end! 🤢🤮 The descriptions of gore were palpable. It t This book might not be for everyone. In fact, I can guarantee it won’t be. But for those of you who it grabs ahold of, it won’t let go… DUN-DUN-DUUUUN!!! It starts off really really slow which has never been my favorite, but once you get past that threshold of ‘I don’t know what’s going on’, you start to get comfortable with the feel and flow of the book. Jones is quite the storyteller. Warning: Do NOT eat while reading this book, specifically the end! 🤢🤮 The descriptions of gore were palpable. It takes some talent to string some pretty innocent words together to create such graphic and horrifying lines. There was this small reference to a movie called ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ which is a movie I found with my best friend 17 years ago and we watch every Halloween season together. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think my best friend and I were the only two people on this planet who knew that movie exists. I legitimately laughed out loud and immediately called my best friend to tell her about this gem of a reference. This book hit the flippin’ spot this Halloween season!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Luvtoread

    This story centers around a young and very angry seventeen-year old and misunderstood Jade Daniels and her over-the-top obsession with slasher films which she lives and breathes every day of her young life and hopes to experience a real life slasher in her town one day since there is a legend involving their own "Indian Lake" which Jade thinks would be the perfect slasher to come to life. Jade is a biracial child Caucasian and Blackfoot Indian and she has always felt a misfit in this predominant This story centers around a young and very angry seventeen-year old and misunderstood Jade Daniels and her over-the-top obsession with slasher films which she lives and breathes every day of her young life and hopes to experience a real life slasher in her town one day since there is a legend involving their own "Indian Lake" which Jade thinks would be the perfect slasher to come to life. Jade is a biracial child Caucasian and Blackfoot Indian and she has always felt a misfit in this predominantly white town not only by her looks but she is an indigent and unloved child of a mother who walked out and left her behind at a young age with her neglectful drunken and abusive father (Blackfoot) who can't wait until she's old enough to leave home. Jade is abrasive, surly, unfriendly to the point where she pushes everyone away even though deep within her heart she really wishes she could be part of something. Jade cannot hold one conversation without bringing her slasher films into it and she always hoped and prayed they would someday evolve into her lonely life especially a "Final Girl" type of situation since they are her favorite films. Unbeknownst to Jade a slasher is being born and Jade will finally play a part in her own real life horror story. Now what, Jade Daniels? This novel was a fantastic horror story for me and I truly enjoyed the native American Indian influence that came into play. Somewhat of a slow burn for the first half of the book and it then quickly escalates into non-stop terror and action all revolving around Jade and the many characters she interacts with. There is plenty of gore and (oh, my poor stomach) many, many grisly and brutal scenes that will be horror reader's delight. The book is so wonderfully written with due homage to almost all the slasher films of the 70's, 80's and then some others. What fun it was to identify with all the movies that I have had the pleasure to have seen over and over throughout the years and a few that I wasn't even aware of. Just brilliant! I loved all the characters and was continually rooting for Jade. I truly just loved Jade and my heart ached for her many times during the story. MY Heart felt as if it run through by a CHAINSAW by the end of this book! I highly recommend this book to all horror readers and hope they get a chance to read this terrifying yet wonderful book. I almost gave 5 stars but I had to take 1/2 star away for the reason that I felt the story was a little incomplete at the end and wondered what happened with a few characters and their important relationship to Jade, so I'm hoping there is a sequel to follow up and then I will go back and change my rating to 5 stars! I want to thank the publisher "Gallery Books" and Netgalley for the opportunity to read their horrifying book and any thoughts and opinions expressed are unbiased and mine alone! I have given this superb story a rating of 4 1/2 HORRIFYING 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌠STARS!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    I wish to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this challenging and gory tribute to horror/slasher movies. The book is told in the 3rd person and centres around a 17-year-old girl named Jade. We get to know this well-written character well, and we follow the narrative through her thoughts and actions. We are immersed in Jade's mind, which I found an uncomfortable place to be. There was much rambling, speculation, and suspicion on her part. The book was slow-paced until about the 70% m I wish to thank NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for this challenging and gory tribute to horror/slasher movies. The book is told in the 3rd person and centres around a 17-year-old girl named Jade. We get to know this well-written character well, and we follow the narrative through her thoughts and actions. We are immersed in Jade's mind, which I found an uncomfortable place to be. There was much rambling, speculation, and suspicion on her part. The book was slow-paced until about the 70% mark. It required a lot of concentration. There were many names of people from both sides of the Lake and names of characters from slasher movies. Readers who are fans of horror stories from books or films should enjoy this book, but it is not for everyone. There are many bloodletting/ gruesome scenes in the story, as described by Jade in relating details from her encyclopedic knowledge of slasher movies. Jade is half-Indian and lives with her drunken father. Her mother is long departed from the home. Jade views her life and the world through what she has learned from old slasher movies. Her conversation is related to horror movies she has watched. Her appearance and behaviour have made her an outcast. She lives on the poor side of the Lake in the settlement of Proofrock. The homes and yards are an eye-sore. Now gentrification is coming to the opposite side of the Lake. Wealthy people are having imposing, luxurious mansions built. Their yachts are putting the rickety canoes and rowboats to shame. She is in her final year of High School, but a history assignment is holding her back. Her essays describe the history of the town through a horror lens while inserting details about slasher movies. I admit to being a fan of many of these movies and found them scary but ridiculous in an enjoyable way. I remember many of the mad slashers named by Jade: Michael, Jason, and Freddy. She also explains in a school essay the reason she regards Jaws as a slasher movie. She also mentions Norman Bates from Psycho. Almost forgotten until later is Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I felt to engage in Jade's narrative fully, it would help share her encyclopedic memory of the names of some of the Final Girls. A new girl, Letha, enrolls in school from the wealthy side of the Lake. Jade regards her as beautiful, pure, and perfect, the embodiment of a Final Girl. There have been 4 known recent deaths from various causes. Jade is excited as she strongly believes that this is the prelude to a slasher coming to kill during the July 4 celebrations. She is thrilled that she may be living through a real-life slasher movie in her own town. Because she knows she lacks the traits to be a Final Girl, she feels it is her role to mentor Letha to be the Final Girl during and after the horrifying events that are approaching. Sometimes, Jade is concerned that she may be paranoid due to her obsession. The local sheriff, Hardy, is protective of her. Her history teacher, Hardy, and Letha believe her oddness results from childhood abuse and trauma. Until about the 3/4 point, I found the story slow and tedious, but then all Hell broke loose. It seemed that every trope and cliche from horror films would be unleashed, along with death, destruction, fire and flood, and the supernatural. To quote a blurb from the 1970s Texas Chainsaw Massacre, "Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?" If you love horror, I recommend you give this a try!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Book Clubbed,

    Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/15... Sherlock Holmes collects inconspicuous details to construct a case. The generic, “brilliant” cop in a TV drama will play with a suspect in the interrogation room until they confess. Jade, of My Heart is a Chainsaw, can mentally shuffle through every slasher movie ever made to see which template applies to the bodies dropping in her small town. It’s a nice lens, giving us a ready-made identity for this recent high school grad Listen to the full review at: https://bookclubbed.buzzsprout.com/15... Sherlock Holmes collects inconspicuous details to construct a case. The generic, “brilliant” cop in a TV drama will play with a suspect in the interrogation room until they confess. Jade, of My Heart is a Chainsaw, can mentally shuffle through every slasher movie ever made to see which template applies to the bodies dropping in her small town. It’s a nice lens, giving us a ready-made identity for this recent high school graduate and an innate motivation to pursue the case developing around her. Jones also captures the complexities of being an outsider teen (frequently written about, rarely authentically) with a good mix of prickly humor, awareness, and the self-loathing that comes with that amount of awareness. Even for a casual slasher fan like myself, the references are easy to follow, and we all love a character with an obsessive drive. However, it does get exhausting at times, as it’s the only way for our MC to deal with the world and process her trauma. It’s exhausting, in other words, in the exact same way it is exhausting to hang out with any obsessive teen who only wants to talk about one subject. A good editor could have cut 75 pages off this book just by trimming conversations and limiting some of the more recursive thought cycles, especially in the first half of the novel. There’s slow burn, and then there’s the candlelight almost going out. However, it redeems itself in the end, the final third of the novel reaching proper levels of batshit. The twists are surprising, the bodies hit the floor, and Jones makes a good case that revenge is actually best served hot, bloody, and inside the rotting corpse of an elk.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Boston

    4.5 stars. TW: sexual assault, trauma, gore, blood, suicide, self harm I’m holding off on a full 5 stars until I reread to make sense of some things, but honestly Stephen Graham Jones did it again. The Only Good Indians was one of my favorite books of last year and this year may just go to My Heart is a Chainsaw. They way this book (mainly the end) had me cringing and gagging the way any slasher movie does should tell you enough, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This was the perfect 4.5 stars. TW: sexual assault, trauma, gore, blood, suicide, self harm I’m holding off on a full 5 stars until I reread to make sense of some things, but honestly Stephen Graham Jones did it again. The Only Good Indians was one of my favorite books of last year and this year may just go to My Heart is a Chainsaw. They way this book (mainly the end) had me cringing and gagging the way any slasher movie does should tell you enough, and I absolutely mean that as a compliment. This was the perfect homage to 80s slashers and will be an instant classic. *I received an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

  23. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    It seems that the reviews I have the most trouble writing are for books purported to be horror. I have no doubt that Stephen Graham Jones is a wonderful writer and I do think this book is quite possibly brilliant. And here you know there’s a “but” coming - but a lot of this was simply lost on me. I think I am simply the wrong audience. I read this because a couple of my friends gave it glowing reviews. They said it took time to build up but the pay-off was worth it so I stuck with it but I’m not It seems that the reviews I have the most trouble writing are for books purported to be horror. I have no doubt that Stephen Graham Jones is a wonderful writer and I do think this book is quite possibly brilliant. And here you know there’s a “but” coming - but a lot of this was simply lost on me. I think I am simply the wrong audience. I read this because a couple of my friends gave it glowing reviews. They said it took time to build up but the pay-off was worth it so I stuck with it but I’m not so sure that the pay off was worth it for me. The book started slowly. Very, very slowly. And it was long. By 16% I was already sick of Jade, our main character - 17 year old, half Indian (Native American that is) rebel, outsider and lover of slasher movies, particularly from the heyday in the 80s. I didn’t mind Jade’s character so much, I quite like teenagers and even remember being one myself but 80s slasher films - not so much. And Jade’s propensity for couching everything, and I mean everything, in her life around slasher tropes got old very quickly. I suppose I watched a lot of them back in the day but I can’t say I found them memorable. Anyway, stuff starts to happen in and around the small town of Proofrock that leads Jade to believe the town is entering a slasher cycle. The story is told mostly from her point of view and through history papers she writes for her favourite teacher, Mr Holmes, again viewing everything, including the town’s history, through slasher goggles. To be fair there were some odd occurrences in the town’s history. There is also a new settlement being built across Indian Lake (which used to be a river until it got dammed) called Terra Nova. This is an exclusive enclave for the very wealthy. Jade meets the daughter of one of the first families to move in, Letha Mondragon (I kid you not) and she is the antithesis of Jade. So much so that Jade decides she must be the final girl and sets about trying to train her up for the dangerous undertaking she will required to face. This doesn’t go quite as planned as Letha misinterprets what Jade is saying in the letter to her except, at the same time, she maybe doesn’t. But that knowledge shall remain for the initiated, that is those who read the book. Anyway based on the title you would expect, eventually, that there will be blood. And so there is. The finale doesn’t quite play out the way I, or even Jade, expected it to but that’s OK. And even though I guess, in the end, it does fall into the horror genre - you guessed it, I didn’t find it creepy or scary. What I did find it was sad, really there was a lot of sadness in that book but mainly I found it sad on Jade’s behalf. It was a unique and empathetic way of telling her story. I just wish it could have been shorter and quicker. Her story was much more interesting than the horror build up. And to whoever mentioned it in their review, I agree - the last two paragraphs were stunning! In conclusion, while I did think it was an excellent book, I didn’t like it that much so I can only give it 3 stars. And also because I came so close to throwing my iPad out the windows with frustration at the slow pace on more than one occasion. Thanks to Netgalley, Gallery Books and Stephen Graham Jones for the much appreciated ARC which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Char

    Final Girls are all the rage these days and no one knows that better than Jade. The powers that be in her town of Proofrock are building a new gated community on the site of, (what townies call), Camp Blood, and only Jade seems to know how that will end up. But as is often the case, no one will believe her when she tells them. Unfortunately, Jade doesn't have the best track record, as she suffers from depression, she verbally rambles, referencing films most people have never heard of, and she ha Final Girls are all the rage these days and no one knows that better than Jade. The powers that be in her town of Proofrock are building a new gated community on the site of, (what townies call), Camp Blood, and only Jade seems to know how that will end up. But as is often the case, no one will believe her when she tells them. Unfortunately, Jade doesn't have the best track record, as she suffers from depression, she verbally rambles, referencing films most people have never heard of, and she has attempted suicide at least once before. Will Jade ever get anyone to believe her? Will she be able to locate the final girl, help prepare her and in so doing, save Proofrock? You'll have to read this to find out! I'm a huge fan of Stephen Graham Jones. THE ONLY GOOD INDIAN was my favorite novel last year, and NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS was among my favorite novellas. I just didn't connect with this one, as I did with those. It might be my lack of love for slashers. I've loved horror movies since my parents took me to Dusk to Dawn events all throughout the 70's. I saw the original Halloween, and Friday the 13th and loved them. I did not love the sequels. At all. This here novel was made for the slasher lover. The references to films and character's names went mostly over my head, I admit it. I did however, love the psychology of those movies-specifically the ways that Jade adopted the stories of those characters. It was like she took those film tropes and overlaid them on her reality and as a result, she had a loose idea of how things were going to go. As it stands, I am blaming this rating on my lack of love or knowledge of most slasher films, (other than the original 70's versions of most of them), and on the fact that I felt no connection to the characters. Mild spoiler: (view spoiler)[ It seemed like the bigwig townies were all there as props and everything was preordained; it all felt too far-fetched. Just like a slasher. (hide spoiler)] The thing, the character, that kept me reading was Jade. Her humanity-I felt it in my soul like a physical thing. Her circumstances, her loneliness, her love and passion for film were all almost tangible. I wanted to hug her and one of those good long hugs, too. Lastly, I felt like this narrative went on too long. Maybe that's another reason that I didn't connect with this tale? Maybe I read it wrong, I don't know, but this is honestly how I feel about it. After thinking it over for a day or two, I'm going with 3.5/5 stars, which pains me. I did enjoy this book, I just didn't love it and I was hoping I would. *Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Saga Press for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.* **Trigger Warnings: (view spoiler)[ Child Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Rape, Gore (hide spoiler)] **

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    My thanks to Stephen Graham Jones, Gallery and Netgalley. I don't know what to say about this book. It took 50 to 60% before it even got going. Once it did, I was hooked! But, it was a long start. I loved most of the characters. But Jade? She and her single minded obsession made for tough reading. The last 30% was good. I just don't believe that any book should take so long to finally get interesting. My thanks to Stephen Graham Jones, Gallery and Netgalley. I don't know what to say about this book. It took 50 to 60% before it even got going. Once it did, I was hooked! But, it was a long start. I loved most of the characters. But Jade? She and her single minded obsession made for tough reading. The last 30% was good. I just don't believe that any book should take so long to finally get interesting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lisazj1

    This is genuinely a "it's me, not the book" situation. I was lured into this book with how much I loved The Only Good Indians. To clarify that, I do love horror, I've read many and watched a ton. But, as Jade is at pains to point out all through this book, not all horror is slasher horror. And you see, I did know that. I also did know, that even though I've seen all the big slasher movies myself, I do not like slasher horror. 😣 I watched them all with friends when I was younger *because that was This is genuinely a "it's me, not the book" situation. I was lured into this book with how much I loved The Only Good Indians. To clarify that, I do love horror, I've read many and watched a ton. But, as Jade is at pains to point out all through this book, not all horror is slasher horror. And you see, I did know that. I also did know, that even though I've seen all the big slasher movies myself, I do not like slasher horror. 😣 I watched them all with friends when I was younger *because that was fun*, but as an adult? Pppfft, no. I'm a super visual person, and reading horror doesn't affect me at all, except for occasional nightmares, but I can live with that. Seeing guts strewn across the screen? Yeah, no. Not for me. SGJ says that he wrote this as a homage to the slasher flicks he grew up on, as so many of us did. And he definitely brought that. His writing was superb and delivered the mental imagery to match his words a bit better than I would have wanted. Despite the fact that I wasn't having fun at all, this was what kept me reading til the bitter, bloody end. It took me a week to read this, which is kind of unlike me, even though I am having terrible trouble focusing on stuff right now. But the main reason I kept picking it up and putting it back down was I just couldn't connect with Jade Daniels, the story's MC. I felt for her, in so many ways, for many things but the main facet of her character for the purpose of the plot? I couldn't get that. (view spoiler)[I understood a lot of what was behind Jade's being so horror-obsessed, as others saw it. It was her armor for many things in her life. She should have been a sympathetic character. And mostly, I did like Jade. I liked the Jade underneath, the one that almost no one saw. And I also understood her fantasies of a slasher showing up and razing everything she hated about Proofrock. However, once events started pointing *for Jade, anyway* to a slasher actually stalking her town, that is where this lost me. Jade did everything she could to make sure the main player of the coming slaughter was ready, so she could watch it unfold, a real life slasher movie for her own entertainment, and maybe payback too. Yeah ok, basic slasher 101, nobody is going to believe her even if she does try to warn them. But still. She was so anticipatory about it, so excited in her theorizing. I was just kind of "What the fuck, Jade?" 😲 for the whole book. 🤷🏼‍♀️ (hide spoiler)] For all that I couldn't feel for Jade like I thought I should, I will say the ending to this book? Her final scene, literally the last few paragraphs of the book, knocked me flat. My heart bled for her. (view spoiler)[I'll also say that I wasn't surprised at all who the real "final girl" was. (hide spoiler)] Fans of slasher movies will love this, and the reviews I've read bears that out so far. It just wasn't for me, but I still look forward to whatever this author comes up with next.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I received an advance review copy for free via Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. My sincerest thanks to the publisher and author. :) Unfortunately, coming on the heels of the superb 'The Only Good Indians', this title fell extremely flat for me. I fully admit that I am not the target audience. Given my rather sheltered upbringing, I missed the Slasher craze. It would be best if you had a ton of knowledge of Slasher films to get all the nods and get into the book's overall flow. I received an advance review copy for free via Netgalley, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. My sincerest thanks to the publisher and author. :) Unfortunately, coming on the heels of the superb 'The Only Good Indians', this title fell extremely flat for me. I fully admit that I am not the target audience. Given my rather sheltered upbringing, I missed the Slasher craze. It would be best if you had a ton of knowledge of Slasher films to get all the nods and get into the book's overall flow. I thought some passing knowledge of Slasher films would be enough for me to enjoy this homage to the golden gore of cinema, but this ended up not being the case. I spent more time researching the references, it seemed, than reading the book. This is not a knock against Stephen Graham Jones; his writing itself is excellent. I just realized about a third of the way through it, I was not the intended audience, and the research involved would not make me really get into it. The ending is absolutely superb, though.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    4.5 stars rounded up Stephen Graham Jones writes literary horror with thoughtful themes and great characterization that really work for me. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a love letter to slasher films, social outsiders, and great teachers who can be a lifeline to struggling teens. The story centers a biracial indigenous (Blackfoot) girl named Jade who is obsessed with slasher films and believes one is about to play out in her small mountain town. I'm not all that familiar with the slasher genre, but I 4.5 stars rounded up Stephen Graham Jones writes literary horror with thoughtful themes and great characterization that really work for me. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a love letter to slasher films, social outsiders, and great teachers who can be a lifeline to struggling teens. The story centers a biracial indigenous (Blackfoot) girl named Jade who is obsessed with slasher films and believes one is about to play out in her small mountain town. I'm not all that familiar with the slasher genre, but I loved My Heart is a Chainsaw. What helps is that the book is structured with these Slasher 101 papers the main character has written that introduce you to the main themes, tropes etc. of the genre. This is a slow-burn story that is intricately plotted with painstaking character work. It deals with trauma, gentrification, abuse, difficult family relationships, and of course, revenge. My only real complaint is that one of the final reveals needed a little more buildup to make it feel like a logical progression. But that's relatively minor. Overall, I really loved this character driven horror novel. I don't think it's going to work for everyone- it's not action-packed (though it certainly has its moments! omg the gore!) and Jade isn't a "likeable" character. She's prickly, damaged, strange, and very much an outsider in her town with only a few people still keeping her tethered (like her wonderful history teacher). But I think if you let her, she'll really grow on you. It is interesting because the narrative is entirely from her perspective and she's kind of excited to get to live through a slasher cycle, only occasionally really worrying about all the people who will die. She says at one point something to the effect of "everyone dies, but first they [people in a slasher] really live". Her characterization is incredible, regardless of whether you "like" her or not. (and by the same token, she wouldn't care whether you like her anyway) I thought it was a beautifully crafted story. Adri eloquently discusses this book in great detail and you should read their review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... Do be aware there are a LOT of content warnings including the obvious gore, violence, death, but also attempted suicide, neglect, and sexual abuse (not on page). The audiobook is great, I listened and read a long at the same time which was a really good experience. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I was lucky enough to win the Goodreads giveaway for this book, which is like hitting the book lottery. This was my first ever book by Jones, and his imagery and characterization simply blew me away. I felt so engrossed in this story from the start, completely invested in Jade's journey and her experience in Proofrock. This book is layered with commentary on the Indian experience in America and it wasn't done in a way that it felt too heavy-handed. It was somehow subtly woven throughout a story I was lucky enough to win the Goodreads giveaway for this book, which is like hitting the book lottery. This was my first ever book by Jones, and his imagery and characterization simply blew me away. I felt so engrossed in this story from the start, completely invested in Jade's journey and her experience in Proofrock. This book is layered with commentary on the Indian experience in America and it wasn't done in a way that it felt too heavy-handed. It was somehow subtly woven throughout a story that is your "standard slasher flick". At times I found the prose to be a bit chaotic, and was constantly having to go back and re-read sentences or sometimes entire pages. This was a minor drawback for me, personally, but I do appreciate how this can be representative of Jade's life in Proofrock (or of the Indian experience in America today?), or simply the chaotic nature of a horror story. By the time I was finished, I felt satisfied with the story this book delivered. I was also totally grossed out by Jones' descriptions of the gore (in a good way!) and the taste left in my mouth after certain scenes (yes, actual, physical taste). The constant slasher and final girl references started out fun and nostalgic, but got a little tiresome towards the end. Overall, this is a fun, but challenging, read. I do recommend this highly to all my horror friends out there! I'm so excited I got the chance to read this once months before release. Now where can I get some potato skins?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    STAR review appears in the June 1 and 15, 2021 issue of Booklist Magazine: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2021/06... Three Words That Describe This Book: heartbreakingly beautiful, meticulously crafted, thought provoking From my draft review: "This brilliantly crafted, heartbreakingly beautiful slasher presents a new type of authentic Final Girl, one that isn’t “pure” and may not be totally innocent, and yet, can still be a vessel for all of our hope. Finals girls are in season this Summer and thi STAR review appears in the June 1 and 15, 2021 issue of Booklist Magazine: https://raforall.blogspot.com/2021/06... Three Words That Describe This Book: heartbreakingly beautiful, meticulously crafted, thought provoking From my draft review: "This brilliantly crafted, heartbreakingly beautiful slasher presents a new type of authentic Final Girl, one that isn’t “pure” and may not be totally innocent, and yet, can still be a vessel for all of our hope. Finals girls are in season this Summer and this will be a nice chaser to The Final Girl Support Group by Hendrix, but it also pairs well with thought-provoking, trauma themed horror such as Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts or Victor LaValle’s The Changeling."

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