MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW
Stephen Graham Jones
Saga Press (August 31, 2021)
Reviewed by Ray Palen
In recent years, Native American author Stephen Graham Jones has really made a name for himself with a string of horror novels that offer incredibly unique characters and perspectives. In much the same way as fellow Native American horror novelist Owl Goingback, his stories include elements from his own culture that ground them with credibility while offering a glimpse into a different world.
MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is one of the more unique titles I have ever heard, and it presents us with a great protagonist—Jennifer ‘Jade’ Daniels—who is a seventeen-year-old half-Indian outcast. Growing up in the economically challenged town of Proofrock, Idaho has not been easy. The one thing that has always gotten Jade through is her encyclopedic knowledge of horror—both written and visual.
Jade is going to see all of that knowledge put to the test during the summer, when she feels like she’s starring within her own slasher film. Tourists have been going missing in growing numbers and the local residents are growing increasingly enraged over the upper-class outsiders that flock to their area each summer to enjoy Indian Lake and, in their eyes, take advantage of the area for their own hedonistic pleasure. As yachts compete with canoes, Jade waits impatiently for the worst to happen.
This novel is one of the most memorable coming of age stories I have read in recent years and time spent with Jade, who is obviously a like-minded person to most who will read MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW, is time well spent. I love Jade—at one point a friend asks her why she talks about slashers so much, and her response is: ‘Can’t I just like horror because it’s great? Does there have to be some big explanation?’
Readers will also have the opportunity to read from Jade’s own horror journal with entries like SLASHER 101. It is within these entries that we really get to appreciate Jade’s mind and love and knowledge of the horror genre. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun—I found myself knowingly grinning throughout these entries. The only advice I can give for anyone picking up MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW is to trust in your narrator and fearless horror tour guide, Jade, and enjoy as she makes it through her own slasher film.