My Heart Is a Chainsaw (The Indian Lake Trilogy #1) (Paperback)
September 2021 Indie Next List
“Jade isn’t the final girl; she doesn’t fit the requirements for a typical slasher flick. When her town becomes the setting for a real-life slasher case, she fills the role of wise woman to the appropriate final girl.”
— April Gosling, Boulder Book Store, Boulder, CO
I love horror but have never been much into slasher films. After reading this book I am tempted to revisit them through the eyes of this novel’s slasher-obsessed protagonist. Jade, a socially isolated teen with a difficult home life, self-medicates with horror movies. Slashers are her lifeblood and constant companion. When her neighbors begin dying mysterious, violent deaths, the line between her inner life and the events occurring around her is irreversibly blurred. My Heart is a Chainsaw is a fun, gory read that packs a surprising emotional punch.— Casey
In her quickly gentrifying rural lake town Jade sees recent events only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films could have prepared her for in this latest chilling novel that “will give you nightmares. The good kind, of course” (BuzzFeed) from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.
“Some girls just don’t know how to die…”
Shirley Jackson meets Friday the 13th in My Heart Is a Chainsaw, written by the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians Stephen Graham Jones, called “a literary master” by National Book Award winner Tananarive Due and “one of our most talented living writers” by Tommy Orange.
Alma Katsu calls My Heart Is a Chainsaw “a homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre.” On the surface is a story of murder in small-town America. But beneath is its beating heart: a biting critique of American colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and gentrification, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken young girl who uses horror movies to cope with the horror of her own life.
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.
* “This extraordinary novel is an essential purchase.”—Kirkus, Starred Review
"A homage to slasher films that also manages to defy and transcend genre. You don't have to be a slasher fan to read My Heart is a Chainsaw, but I guarantee that you will be after you read it."—Alma Katsu, author of The Deep and The Hunger
"Brutal, beautiful, and unforgettable, My Heart Is a Chainsaw is a visceral ride from start to finish. A bloody love letter to slasher fans, it's everything I never knew I needed in a horror novel."—Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens
"Stephen Graham Jones can't miss. My Heart Is A Chainsaw is a painful drama about trauma, mental health, and the heartache of yearning to belong...twisted into a DNA helix with encyclopedic Slasher movie obsession and a frantic, gory whodunnit mystery, with an ending both savage and shocking. Don't say I didn't warn you!” —Christopher Golden, New York Times bestselling author of Ararat and Red Hands
“An easy contender for Best of the Year. A love letter to (and an examination of) both the horror genre and the American West, it left me stunned and applauding.”—Brian Keene, World Horror Grandmaster Award and two Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rising and The Damned Highway
“Stephen Graham Jones masterfully navigates the shadowy paths between mystery and horror. An epic entry in the slasher canon." —Laird Barron, author of Swift to Chase
“Fans of Stephen King's It and Peter Straub's Ghost Story should find plenty to love in this tale of friends who are haunted by a supernatural entity they first encountered in their youth.” —Silvia Moreno-Garcia, bestselling author of Mexican Gothic
“Jones boldly and bravely incorporates both the difficult and the beautiful parts of contemporary Indian life into his story, never once falling into stereotypes or easy answers but also not shying away from the horrors caused by cycles of violence.”—Rebecca Roanhorse, bestselling author of Trail of Lightning and Black Sun
"The Only Good Indian is equal parts revenge thriller, monster movie, and meditation on the inescapable undertow of the past. A gripping, deeply unsettling novel."—Carmen Maria Machado, National Book Award finalist and Guggenheim Fellow and author of Her Body and Other Parties
"The best yet from one of the best in the business. An emotional depth that staggers, built on guilt, identity, one's place in the world, what's right and what's wrong. The Only Good Indians has it all: style, elevation, reality, the unreal, revenge, warmth, freezing cold, and even some slashing. In other words, the book is made up of everything Stephen Graham Jones seemingly explores and, in turn, everything the rest of us want to explore with him." —Josh Malerman, New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box and A House at the Bottom of a Lake.
“Stephen Graham Jones is a literary master who happens to write horror, and you've never read a book quite like The Only Good Indians.”—Tananarive Due, National Book Award winner, author of The Good House
“The Only Good Indians is scary good. Stephen Graham Jones is one of our most talented and prolific living writers. The book is full of humor and bone chilling images. It’s got love and revenge, blood and basketball. More than I could have asked for in a novel. It also both reveals and subverts ideas about contemporary Native life and identity. Novels can do some much to render actual and possible lives lived. Stephen Graham Jones truly knows how to do this, and how to move us through a story at breakneck (literally) speed. I’ll never see an elk or hunting, or what a horror novel can do the same way again.”—Tommy Orange, Pulitzer Prize finalist of There There
“The Only Good Indians is the most American horror novel I've ever read.”—Grady Hendrix, New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires
“A heartbreakingly beautiful story about hope and survival, grappling with themes of cultural identity, family, and traditions.” —Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“Subtly funny and wry at turns, this novel will give you nightmares. The good kind, of course.”—Buzzfeed
“This novel works both as a terrifying chiller and as biting commentary on the existential crisis of indigenous peoples adapting to a culture that is bent on eradicating theirs.” —Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
"I like stories where nobody escapes their pasts because it's what I fear most."—Terese Marie Mailhot, New York Times bestselling author of Heart Berries
"Stephen Graham Jones is one of our greatest treasures. His prose here pops and sings, hard-boiled poetry conspiring with heartbreakingly-alive characters." —Sam J. Miller, Nebula-Award-Winning author of Blackfish City
“Gritty and gorgeous” —The New York Times
"How long must we pay for our mistakes, for our sins? Does a thoughtless act doom us for eternity? This is a novel of profound insight and horror, rich with humor and intelligence. The Only Good Indians is a triumph; somehow it’s a great story and also a meditation on stories. I've wondered who would write a worthy heir to Peter Straub's Ghost Story. Now I know the answer: Stephen Graham Jones."—Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom and The Changeling
"THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is a masterpiece. Intimate, devastating, brutal, terrifying, yet warm and heartbreaking in the best way, Stephen Graham Jones has written a horror novel about injustice and, ultimately, about hope. Not a false, sentimental hope, but the real one, the one that some of us survive and keeps the rest of us going. And it gives me hope that this book exists and is now in your hands."—Paul Tremblay, author of A Head Full of Ghosts and The Cabin at the End of the World
“Jones hits his stride with a smart story of social commentary—it’s scary good.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Jones... has written a masterpiece. The book is… as instinctive and essential as it is harsh. Despite the blood and bleakness, The Only Good Indians is ultimately also about hope and the promise of the future...Read it.”
— Locus Magazine