Why did I choose to read this book?
I read its predecessor My Heart is a Chainsaw and since Stephen Graham Jones is quickly becoming the horror king of my heart, I had to read the next one. Unrelated, but if you haven’t read the standalone The Only Good Indians, you should. It’s one of the best books I have ever read across all genres.
What is this book about?
Jade is back. She’s been released from prison after being acquitted of her father’s murder and she has returned to Proofrock just as a notorious serial killer has gone missing nearby. Letha Mondragon (the supposed Final Girl from book 1) is now a horror fanatic (having learned her lesson from not listening to Jade in the first book) and we begin to see how the last 4 years have been for the survivors of the Independence Day Massacre. A new horror is visiting Proofrock, as teenagers are starting to be murdered through disembowelment and Jade (now Jennifer, trying to be more adult and turning over a new leaf) sees the cycle beginning again. Her investigations launch the next set of horror lessons surrounding slasher behavior.
What is notable about the story?
This book moves so much faster and is so much more enjoyable than My Heart is a Chainsaw. Not to say that book one wasn’t enjoyable, it was just claustrophobic, limited to one view. Don’t Fear the Reaper opens up to many experiences while keeping Jade/Jennifer at the center of it all. I also loved the switch from a drawn out story over many months to this book basically happening over the course of like, two days, with most of the action happening during a huge snowstorm. The tension was very high in this one, and it never let up.
THE ENDING – not gonna spoil but so so good.
The story as a whole made me regret that I groaned through the slasher education in My Heart is a Chainsaw. I needed to be paying attention to understand all the decisions and motivations in Don’t Fear the Reaper. What’s notable about this is that, in this way, Stephen Graham Jones made me a part of the slasher cycle. It was sneaky, and I was a little bit mad for a second, but in the middle of Don’t Fear the Reaper I realized that I was just another exasperated adult who wasn’t listening in My Heart is a Chainsaw, and I was paying for it now that the events were unfolding a mile a minute. This was absolutely genius. I might be giving the gag away, but if you decide to start this trilogy PAY ATTENTION IN BOOK ONE. Although if the slasher theme holds up, you won’t listen to my warnings anyway.
Was anything not so great?
This might just be me, but the timeline felt a little difficult to follow. There is this big storm and the bodies are piling up and the events seem to be happening all in the same day/night. Maybe I just don’t have a good idea of how big Proofrock is. The sleuth in me wishes I had a map like what fantasy books typically give so I could flip back to it and think about where everyone is. Or some time stamps maybe. I wanted to feel the immediacy of the passage of time, how short it was.
What’s the verdict?
I’m doling out 5 stars on Goodreads for this one. Fast pacing, good mystery, the right number of snowplows, and a fantastic ending – if you’re a horror fan you’ll want to catch up on this trilogy. Jones is an absolute master at his craft and if you aren’t reading his books, you are missing out. Go get ’em.