{Audiobook} Review: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart is a Chainsaw

The Lake Witch Trilogy #1

Stephen Graham Jones

Narrator: Cara Gee

In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for

Jade Daniels is an angry, half-Indian outcast with an abusive father, an absent mother, and an entire town that wants nothing to do with her. She lives in her own world, a world in which protection comes from an unusual source: horror movies…especially the ones where a masked killer seeks revenge on a world that wronged them. And Jade narrates the quirky history of Proofrock as if it is one of those movies. But when blood actually starts to spill into the waters of Indian Lake, she pulls us into her dizzying, encyclopedic mind of blood and masked murderers, and predicts exactly how the plot will unfold.

Yet, even as Jade drags us into her dark fever dream, a surprising and intimate portrait emerges… a portrait of the scared and traumatized little girl beneath the Jason Voorhees mask: angry, yes, but also a girl who easily cries, fiercely loves, and desperately wants a home. A girl whose feelings are too big for her body.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw is her story, her homage to horror and revenge and triumph.

Publisher: Gallery / Saga Press

Published: August 31st 2021

Sexism, Parental Neglect, Racism, Self Harm Depiction, Blood Depiction, Mention of Suicide Attempt, Alcoholism, Gore, Child Sexual Assault, Mutilation, Mention of Abortion 

Um… This is probably a book I feel I would have enjoyed more if I had read it instead of listened to it. Gee did a fine enough job, but I will say the main character sounded younger than she actually was. I thought Jade was 14-15 and she’s 17? Now, yes, I may be blaming the narration for my thoughts, but again, Gee did a fine enough job, even at 2.5x speed.

“My heart is a chainsaw, yes, but you’re the one who starts it.” 

Now, I have no regrets with this impromptu listen. Did it have everything I thought I’d ever need? Slasher love? Small town? Mystery? Gore? A race to find the killer? YES. But, I didn’t exactly get that.

I had read a few reviews before deciding to make this my next read and sure, they were mixed, but I’m a big believer in finding out for myself… in the right circumstances. Let me start off by saying a lot of the issues I came across others pointing out, I didn’t mind. This is quite a long listen, coming in at 12+ hours and it’s a slow listen, moreso focusing on Jade, our character of the hour, her day to day, her mindset and I again, had no issue with it. I enjoyed the pacing, the slow lull of mundane small town life with quick flashes of oh? what the hell just happened?? is this real??? It balanced out perfectly and kept me in the story enough.

And I say enough because I still have to highlight— it is slow. Which again, in the right circumstance is fine but I was finding it easier and easier to dive in and out of the story the longer I get through it. Sounds like a contradiction, huh?

Seeing-wise, I won’t lie: for a small town, I was confused on where I was. Which I can’t 100% blame the book, I make it known often that me and settings do not get along. I am geographically challenged, if I didn’t have a GPS I wouldn’t know my own way home.

Yet, that’s fine– this book had some real hard hitting topics here, especially towards the end. Gentrification, micro-aggressions, abuse– as always I really advise you go into this with a good mindset. Forget the gore, this book takes a lot from you.

Also, mini appreciation thing here: I do appreciate the ‘slasher 101’ sections strewn throughout the story, they’re fun and a light-hearted way to educate you on said slashers just so you’re not lost on slasher etiquette. And as a slasher fan myself, I loved it.

“Horror’s not a symptom, it’s a love affair.” 

And our slasher expert Jade? I… in a personal sense I sympathized with her. There is no doubt that she’s been through things and I understand where she’s coming from and on a surface level, as a character yes, I rooted for her. For her happiness and her survival and just for her. And yet… I had my pet peeves of mine when it came to her character. Her “slasher-tinted shades” as she likes to put it made her seem… sociopathic isn’t the word, but when you have evidence to hand to anyone to at least help with said investigation and your mindset is “but what if… things played out?” She gave me suspect. And I’ll delve deeper into that later.

Another little tiny pet peeve— characters that are too. damn. lucky. I don’t want to spoil too much, but remember, Jade is really into the 80’s horror scene and other people do look at her a certain way. They don’t, oh I don’t know, find her suspicious though. But, I also know small towns run on different rules… except no one really likes her either so the corrupt mess would also be normal?? Am I trying to make excuses? Maybe??

I feel like I’m so disappointed and stale on this read because I went in expecting something a bit different. The way I’d been hearing about this book gave me the impression we’d be going on a journey of: is this fiction/all in Jade’s head or is this all really happening. That this would have more of a mental illness route or a deep dive on trauma and coping mechanisms in more of a blunt way? I don’t want to spoil it, but… {CLICK FOR SPOILERS}Jade has been through some things, being raped by your own father, having your mother not be on your side and leaving her there with said abuser… I understand her need to escape. But, the reveal of such atrocities was thrown out there so late and brief in the story I just… and I will acknowledge that there was one instance where it was hinted that the abuse ran deep– I just wish it was delved into more. Her journey into her being the final girl she didn’t believe herself to be was hopeful and powerful and satisfying, but the journey as a whole? I wish there was more of a focus.

I felt very meh on this book. The ending felt unsatisfactory, not in message but just… how it ended im really not trying to spoil here. And yet… I just found out that there’s a sequel that’s already out?? And… I am intrigued. That’s makes the ending not as frustrating, because there’s more to the story. I think I recommend this one? But in the most complicated ways possible.

5 thoughts on “{Audiobook} Review: My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones”

  1. I was looking forward to reading this, thinking it would pluck my slasher-movie-loving strings, but I’ll have to think about how much time I’d like to dedicate to a slower paced novel. I’m still intrigued enough to give it a try 👀 Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

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