My Heart Is a ChainsawMy Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Published by Gallery / Saga Press on August 31, 2021
Pages: 416
View Title on Goodreads
Bantering Books Rating: five-stars

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.

Bantering Books Review

Stephen Graham Jones is pretty proud of himself. As he should be.

If you take the time to read his Acknowledgements at the end of his latest slasher novel, My Heart Is a Chainsaw, you will learn how hard he worked to create this story. You will sense how proud he is of it and how deeply within his heart he carries his diehard-slasher-fan protagonist, Jade Daniels. I think he drafted the novel at least three times from the ground up, over a span of about seven years. He struggled with the prose and to find the right characters about which to write. He just couldn’t get the novel to work.

But Chainsaw works now. Amazingly well. Every ounce of Jones’s authorial pride is deserved.

Because it’s bloody. It’s gory. It’s a slasher fan’s dream. And the writing in it is extraordinary.

Though not everyone is gonna like it. The writing, I mean. (And the novel itself. Slasher tales will never appeal to all.) The story, as it follows Jade in her warped delight when a slasher comes to town, is densely written and filled with references to classic horror films. Jones’s prose has a strikingly distinctive style, too, with unique, obscure phrasing and long sentences.

It’s like you’re reading, reading, reading, and you’re not quite sure what exactly he’s trying to say, yet you get it, deep down inside you know what he’s getting at, but if you tried to put it into words, you wouldn’t find the right ones, so you just keep reading, reading, reading, totally not getting it but getting it.

Yeah. It’s kinda like that.

Chainsaw takes focus, reading stamina, and brain power. Along with a fair amount of patience because the first 60% of the story is tediously slow.

But I assure you, the novel’s payoff is huge. The ending is horrifically slasher-y and spectacular, and it goes on for pages and pages (much like Jones’s sentences), making all that comes before it more than worth your while.

And the best part of the payoff is you will come to know Jade. Yes, she’s a senior in high school. Yes, she can be a bit grating. I promise you, though, that girl will break you while showing the true meaning of strength.

She has the heart of a chainsaw, after all. Loud, roaring, relentless.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is an unforgettable read, and this is one of the easiest five stars I’ve given.