My Heart is a Chainsaw (The Indian Lake Trilogy #1)

Source: DRC via NetGalley (Gallery Books, Gallery/Saga Press) in exchange for an honest review
Pub. Date: February 7, 2023
Synopsis: Goodreads
Purchase Link: Amazon

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Why did I choose to read this book?

The Only Good Indians is far and away one of the best books I have ever read. I know that Stephen Graham Jones has quite the backlist, but with this new book (and start of a trilogy!) I felt like forging ahead instead of exploring behind.

What is this book about?

A Native American high school “graduate” (trust me, you’ll get why the ironic quotation marks are there) is a huge fan of and an expert in slasher films. When she runs into the new student in town (part of a group of rich families developing land across the lake) and realizes she is a Final Girl (the pure, virginal main character that is destined to stop the slasher), Jade believes that the slasher cycle has begun in her town and she’s the only person with the knowledge to help.

What is notable about the story?

One of the things that I loved about TIGI was how the supernatural element was woven into the paths of the characters throughout the book. Jones writes this in such a strong way that it makes it real, it makes it so believable that of course there’s an elk spirit inhabiting bodies and using them to go on a murderous rampage fueled by vengeance.

The supernatural element in Chainsaw is much more subtle, and the vengeance has been brewing longer. The book is from the point of view of only one character, so we only see what she sees. This creates an excellent reading experience because, like the rest of her town, you wont be sure whether Jade is really seeing a slasher play out in her town or if she’s just a loser kid with a horror obsession that she’s using to make her life more interesting than it is. You’ll feel your loyalties pulled toward and then away from Jade’s escapades and in the end you’ll know where they lie.

I also enjoy a main character who is an absolute fuckup. Jade’s not even pretty. She knows she’s a fuckup. I think that sometimes she fucks things up on purpose because that’s her personal identity. She spends multiple scenes running around in a filthy janitor’s jumpsuit and colors her hair with shoe polish (*gag*). She has extreme familial trauma that she has to deal with daily because she still lives with her dad and doesn’t want to move to live with her mom (probably because that move would require effort to change into not a fuckup and she’s too tired to take that project on). Jade’s entire vibe is “I accept that that this is who I am, so I guess I’m just going to be myself” and usually this would be a statement of confidence and hope but here it’s the opposite. I love a main character who tries to help but just makes things worse.

Was anything not so great?

Have you ever been at a gathering or a party and gotten cornered by someone who wants to explain blockchain/Dungeons and Dragons/Star Trek/Star Wars/etc to you as a way of making conversation, and then that’s all they want to/are able to talk about and there’s no good way to bow out of the conversation because you’re cornered?

That’s what reading most of this book feels like. Like, I’m glad that slasher films are your favorite thing but we can talk about other stuff, yeah? The fact that we only ever get one character’s POV for the entire book doesn’t make this any better.

What’s the verdict?

4 stars on Goodreads because of the monotony of the slasher theme but overall an interesting read with a thrilling, race to the finish ending. The second installment in the trilogy, Don’t Fear the Reaper, comes out February 7, 2023 and Ill have an advance review of it ready to go soon. If you like horror, Stephen Graham Jones is a requirement for your TBR. Go get started. 🙂


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