My Heart Is a Chainsaw

(Indian Lake Trilogy #1)

by Stephen Graham Jones

Well, that was an experience.

I saw the Nighmare on Elmstreet movies, Scream, read Stephen King, Clive Barker, etc. but reading this book was an education on the slasher/horror movie genre, tropes, etc. almost like reading The Science of Women in Horror.

We are plunged into Jade Daniel’s frenetic, meandering, encylopedic-horror movie knowledge voice that she filters the reality of her small hometown Indian Lake through. She’s a senior in high school, an outcast, obsessed with slashers, and rich shiny families have come to town and are building a beautiful development across the lake in what was once national forest.

There’s layers and layers of history in this town: a former town drowned by the new dam, a legend of a fiery preacher in the lake, a lake girl ghost, a blood bath at an abandoned camp, mysterious dead elk, etc.

There’s also two recent tourist deaths that sparks off Jade’s slasher genre trope recognition instincts and she begins to chronicle and predict more murder and mayhem while observing and trying to figure out who the slasher will be and what grievance they are avenging.

But the narration is not what you would call…linear. Or particularly grounded in plot/reality. We get Jade through Jade’s view of the world, and its pretty gory and messed up and quite…thrilling to read.

This book is so meta it makes my teeth hurt. Jade calls out names of characters from movies who might have done things in her town at the same rate as she does actual fellow townies, and it is sometimes confusing for someone not as fan-versed as I was, but I didn’t actually care. All of the genre promises come true– even when you begin to doubt Jade’s take on things.

I was a bit uncomfortable with the portrayal of Jade’s father as the only native american in town…even while it might be true to the time/place the stereotypes were a bit much.

And I don’t know if I would go ahead and read the next book by this author right away, the voice and style is sooooo distinctive it might be good to pace it out with other books before coming back to it. Still, an amazing read and a must for any horror genre lover.