Book Review: My Heart Is a Chainsaw

My Heart is a Chainsaw is a love letter. It’s intense and intimate. Familiar and shocking at the same time. You can practically see the grainy, underexposed horror lighting throughout.

This book is not a casual read. The author’s style is challenging and at first I wasn’t sure I liked that so much happens between the lines. This level of lyrical, skeletal prose is rare in horror, but outrageously successful here.

What makes this piece beautiful is the distance. Yes, it’s about slashers and everything you already know about them, but that’s all through the safety of the tv screen. You, the reader, get to know Jade, but the angsty teen stubbornly remains at arm’s length. The glacial pacing makes this a study in anticipation. After the shocking prologue, the plot pumps the brakes, comes to a rolling stop, then guns it. Like Jade, you think you’re more than prepared, but when it finally comes, omg no no no you’re not ready.

This is a compulsive, memorable read that I would recommend to select readers, but not everybody. If you’re passionate about horror movies – excuse me, SLASHER movies – you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. Some parts were too specialized, too in-crowd for me, and if I were even a fraction as passionate as the main character, this book would turn my world upside down. Still, this is one story that will stick with me for many reasons.

It’s not often I turn the last page and think, “Damn, now that is a story,” My Heart Is a Chainsaw is art unlike anything I have ever read before.

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones is expected to be published August 31, 2021.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for a copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Your Turn to Suffer

You ever crave true horror but can’t find a title to scratch the itch? This is the one you’re looking for. 

Physical therapist, Lori, lives a relatively uncomplicated life until the mysterious Cabal appears out of nowhere and demands that she “confess and atone — or suffer.” Bizarre nightmare creatures continually chip away at her safety, her sanity, and everything she loves until she can uncover and atone for her own horrible truth.

Your Turn to Suffer is the most intense book I’ve read in a very long time. This title is dedicated to David Lynch, and that definitely makes sense. The sudden slips between normalcy and the surreal dreamscape are nightmarish to say the least. It’s cryptic, bizarre, horrible, beautiful, and most of it remains just out of reach. Until it doesn’t.

Around the midpoint, there are some short scenes involving minor characters and townspeople when the nightmare hits. This is the turning point where the plot stops being distinctly Lynchian and diverges into something paranormal yet hyperrealistic at the same time. The effect is gutting.

The terms “splatterpunk” and “extreme horror” are sometimes used interchangeably, but this, I feel, is the difference. Yep, there’s a lot of gore, but the story touches on obvious fears as well as psychic horrors that I didn’t even know existed. Some scenes were pure fantasy a la Beetlejuice, while others were way too real. 

About a quarter of the way through, the book reaches a point that would be climactic in the hands of other authors, but Mr. Waggoner turns the heat higher and higher until we’re burning, then turns it up one more time. 

That said, I do think there are too many things going on in this world. The Cabal is made up of such diverse, um, entities that it’s hard to know what’s scary and what’s just weird. Some of the scenes are so “out there” that it’s just too much. There are no rules whatsoever.

It’s hard to summarize this story and do it justice. Basically, if you like your horror with a side of mindf*ck, you should just read this. This one pulls out all the stops. I can’t imagine any reader would be unaffected by this brutal book.

CW: strong horror elements including animal abuse and a disturbing scene with child victims.

Your Turn to Suffer by Tim Waggoner is expected to be published March 23, 2021.

Thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.