My Heart is a
As followers of my blog will
know, I’m absolutely ‘stacked’ when it comes to my read and review list. So
much so, that sometimes I don’t have time to scour the internet for fresh
ideas. Especially those that will fit my ‘quirky’ preferences. However, THAT’s
where Black Gate Fantasy comes in, as the staff there have an eye for spotting
things that will appeal to my particular tastes.
Just look at the blurb for My Heart is a Chainsaw:
Jade is one class away from
graduating high-school, but that's one class she keeps failing local history.
Dragged down by her past, her father and being an outsider, she's composing her
epic essay series to save her high-school diploma.
Jade's topic? The unifying theory
of slasher films. In her rapidly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade sees the
pattern in recent events that only her encyclopedic knowledge of horror cinema
could have prepared her for. And with the arrival of the Final Girl, Letha
Mondragon, she's convinced an irreversible sequence of events has been set into
As tourists start to go missing,
and the tension grows between her community and the celebrity newcomers
building their mansions the other side of the Indian Lake, Jade prepares for
the killer to rise. She dives deep into the town's history, the tragic deaths
than occurred at camp years ago, the missing tourists no one is even sure
exist, and the murders starting to happen, searching for the answer.
As the small and peaceful town heads towards catastrophe,
it all must come to a head on 4th July, when the town all gathers on the water,
where luxury yachts compete with canoes and inflatables, and the final showdown
between rich and poor, past and present, townsfolk and celebrities slasher and
So, we have all the ingredients of an absolute gem here.
Jade Daniels is something of a social misfit, both at
school and within her local community. Her dad’s a deadbeat drunken bum; her
mother’s absent; nobody gives a damn about her. And to top it all off, she
walks the proverbial tightrope by retreating into a blood-tinted haven in which
1980’s horror movies color her perspective. But that’s how she copes, by
viewing the world about her and all its pressures through a lens of grime and
Well, it would be, except for the fact that Jade is a
walking library when it comes to the horror genre. She knows everything. All
the twists and turns. All the feints. All the clichés and tropes. So much so,
that when the everyday drudgery of life is suddenly jarred by a number of
unexpected deaths, Jade becomes convinced she can see the link. There’s a
serial killer on the loose. A killer who is no doubt preparing for a grand,
July 4th slasher-fest finale.
The thing is, nobody believes her when she tries to tell
them what’s coming. So how the hell will she convince the authorities that they
have to do something?
Well, as I found out, this is a story of two halves. Or
more accurately, a story of 99.5% Awesome and 0.5% What the hell?
Let me explain. . .
Jones’ knowledge of the horror genre is encyclopedic,
giving his main character an undeniable depth that makes you just want to dive
in and help her. Yes, Jade’s a rebel. She’s an oddball who deliberately tests
the boundaries of what’s acceptable. But she also has a heart of gold. She
wants to help an unwilling and undeserving community from a fate worthy of the
most horrendous bloodbath imaginable, and she goes out of her way to do just
that. In doing so, she digs herself an ever deepening hole in which her
reputation will remain forever buried.
But she doesn’t care. She wants to do the right thing. .
And nobody believes her, setting in motion a chainsaw of events that are as
morbidly hypnotic as they are inevitable and compelling. Jones sprinkles clues throughout
his narrative that point toward an apocalyptic climax. And you can literally
feel the tension building as we inevitably head toward that climax, until . . .
BAM! The story leaves you floundering.
And not in a good way.
As I mentioned above, 99.5 % of the story is a 5-star
blitz of excellence. A blitz that suddenly fizzles to a puff of elusive smoke
in the last pages that – how can I say this – takes all the wind out of your
sails, and all the pzazz out of the fabric of the story.
In fact, I had to re-read the last chapter in its
entirety three times. Yes, THREE times, just to make sure I hadn’t missed
something vital in my haste to witness the grand finale.
You’ll see what I mean if you read this story for
All that work. All that depth and creativity. All those
breadcrumbs and slow, pressure cooker buildup for . . . THAT? There was
certainly nothing grand about it. And as for a finale? I’m sorry, I’m still
I note with interest how many other reviewers thought the
book was brilliant. And to be fair, it is. Except for the ending, which I felt was a horror story in itself. A shame, as this could easily been one of the best books I’ve read
and reviewed in a long time.