Don’t Fear the Reaper is a slasher fan’s dream (and nightmare)

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones. Image courtesy Saga Press
Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones. Image courtesy Saga Press /

If you are a horror fan and you haven’t read Stephen Graham Jones, you need to fix that as soon as possible. And there is no better place to start than with his The Indian Lake trilogy. It starts with My Heart is a Chainsaw which came out in 2021 and is followed up with Don’t Fear the Reaper.

Both books follow Jade Daniels. To say she is a slasher fan would be the understatement of the century. She has watched them all and in the first book, she is hoping a slasher hits her small town of Proofrock, Idaho. But she soon finds out, you don’t always want your wishes to come true. The Indian Lake Massacre killed most of the people in her small town and she was accused of the murders.

But now, four years later, she’s back. But Proofrock’s resident slasher fan isn’t the same person she was before. She’s given up slashers. But they haven’t given up on her. Upon her arrival, serial killer Dark Mills South also arrives. And two teens are murdered.

What follows is another fever dream of Jade Daniels. Except now she’s Jennifer Daniels and this is her worst nightmare. But who better to figure out who the killer is and stop them than the horror queen herself?

Don’t Fear the Reaper is an introspective slasher sequel

Luckily, she’s not on her own. She has her former best friend Letha Mondragon, the deputy sheriff and husband of Letha, Banner Tompkins, Cinnamon Baker, a new (and creepy) English teacher, and the former sheriff, Sheriff Hardy.

And as with any Stephen Graham Jones books, there are enough twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.

Don’t Fear the Reaper is a perfect sequel to My Heart is a Chainsaw. We get to see an older Jade who has developed past her love of slasher films but who must use that suppressed knowledge in order to find the killer that’s haunting the town.

The story isn’t as focused on Jade’s narrative but she’s definitely still there. We get points of view from Jade, Deputy Tompkins, Dark Mills South, Letha Mondragon, Kimmy Daniels, and many more. But the book never feels like it’s veering all over the place. All these points of view are necessary and are wrapped up very well.

My only critique is that I think the middle was a little slow but when you start the book with two major murders, two friends talking to each other (while hunting a killer) is bound to feel a little slow.

Overall, Don’t Fear the Reaper is another love letter to slasher films but takes a different tone than My Heart is a Chainsaw. While there is a reverence for horror films in the first book, there is almost a wariness of them in this one. Jade certainly doesn’t view them in the same way she once did.

That’s not to say a slasher fan won’t find a ton of references and easter eggs throughout the book. All the murders are based on ones in certain slasher movies which makes it fun to read.

If you’re a horror fan, a Stephen Graham Jones fan, or a slasher fan, you need to read Don’t Fear the Reaper. It is expertly written, filled with complicated, well-developed characters, and contains lots of murder and mayhem.

What the next book in this trilogy will be about is anyone’s guess. But if nothing else, there is sure to be plenty of blood and guts.

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones is available now in ebook, hardcover, and audiobook formats.

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