In “My Heart is a Chainsaw,” the first book in his Indian Lake Trilogy, Stephen Graham Jones devised a climactic scene in which scores of people watching the movie “Jaws” while floating on the lake over the 4th of July are suddenly engulfed in a tornadic waterspout of mayhem and massacre so relentless and over the top that this reviewer could not imagine how the author might come up with a sequel, much less, a third book.
But he has. In his follow-up “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” Jones continues with his affectionate, unabashed homage to slasher films. It is four years later and Jade Daniels, “the Final Girl,” from the first story is back in the town of Proofrock, Idaho, on Indian Lake. She has just finished serving four years in prison as punishment for her behavior in “Chainsaw.”
She no longer goes by Jade. Upon her arrival some locals react with surprise that she’s come back following the bloodbath which took place not so long ago upon the lake. Whenever someone calls her Jade she will correct them by saying she now goes by Jennifer.
Jones flips the weather script. “Chainsaw” takes place during summer, as this new book opens a blizzard is about to hit the region right as a convoy of law enforcement officers are escorting a serial killer named Dark Mill South through the area.
Dark Mill South is missing a hand and in its place he has a lethal hook. His hook is depicted on the book cover-we instinctively know he’ll be arriving soon at Indian Lake. There’s this teaser on the inside cover: “Dark Mill South’s Reunion Tour began on December 12th 2019, a Thursday. Thirty-six hours and twenty bodies later, on Friday the 13th it will be over.”
So many already died or were gravely injured one wonders as this next book opens who is left? There’s the former sheriff, he now needs a walker to get around. Then there’s Jade’s friend Letha, she lost most of her jaw and had to have it surgically reconstructed. While Jade was in prison Letha has been studying up on slasher movies.
The biggest loss for Jade was her beloved history teacher. His replacement, a strange man named Armitage, is also consumed by slasher films and we’ll discover that his arrival in Proofrock is connected with his obsession for horror and the gory events that occurred four years ago on the lake.
As we shift into this new story there’s no pause in the bloodletting, a high school student gets gutted in the very first chapter. Jones is relentless-as is Dark Mill South, who thoroughly enjoys what he is doing. He’s virtually unstoppable. Jones is a devotee of the slasher genre and as he pivots effortlessly from violence to hilarity some readers will be left gasping.
High school students provide most of the grist for the insane non stop grinding of Dark Mill. Jones has already finished writing the final book in this trilogy.
Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit www.wyso.org/programs/book-nook. Contact him at email@example.com.
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