My Heart is a Chainsaw
Stephen Graham Jones
Gallery/Saga Press, August 2021
Jade Daniels is an angry adolescent with a slasher-movie addiction. Constantly clad in her janitorial coveralls, complete with combat boots and often topped by hair as brightly colored as Indian hair can be, she exudes the air of an inexplicably embittered being.
May be typical teen angst. Could be, she’s truly had it tough. Either way, the look-plus-attitude tends to keep other students at bay.
History teacher extraordinaire, Mr. Holmes, makes generous allowances for Jade’s assignments. He accepts her SLASHER 101 thesis. Holmes even reads it. But for all of his best intentions, he misses the big picture Jade is trying to paint.
Sheriff Hardy has, very unfortunately, gotten to know the poor excuse that serves as Jade’s father pretty well. Tab Daniels is not a fine, upstanding man. So, it’s little wonder that Hardy cuts Jade some slack as she acts out against the world.
When Jade meets Letha, the beautiful, confident new-girl-on-the-block; her frustrations find focus. The Final Girl has arrived. Jade suspects that her hell-on-Earth, otherwise known as Terra Nova, is cursed. There’ve always been stories and scary legends, but Jade feels the evil. Which is why she so generously shared portions of her SLASHER study-guide with Letha.
Letha sees what the well-meaning history teacher missed and being a genuinely good girl, reaches out to the sheriff with the hopes of helping her new friend. But things in the tiny town take a violent and deadly turn. Certain it’s the moment she’s been waiting for, Jade joyfully flings herself into the danger and mayhem. As the remains of savaged animals and humans pile up, the person (or thing) behind the murderous rampage remains a mystery.
I’ve just visited “my” high-school students for the first time this school year. When I asked what they wanted to read, hands-down Thriller and Horror topped the list. And then I went home and picked up My Heart is a Chainsaw. Pretty sure that Mr. Jones wrote this to their deepest, darkest desires and I cannot wait to take this treasure to them.
This review was written by jv poore for Buried Under Books,
with huge thanks for the Advance Review Copy
to donate to my favorite classroom library.
Reviewed by jv poore, November 2021.