(4.5 stars rounded up to 5)
Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones is a literary horror thriller and the second book in the Lake Witch trilogy.
I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in at a little over fifteen hours and is narrated by a full cast including Isabella Star LaBlanc and fifteen others. While the first book in the series has a singular point-of-view, this installment is heavily multi-POV.
Jade–now going by her birth name Jennifer–Daniels has returned to her hometown of Proofrock after her murder conviction was overturned. Convicted serial killer Dark Mill South has also found himself in town, after escaping from his prison transfer during a blizzard. Over the next day and a half, many bodies hit the floor and Jade and her friends must figure out what is happening.
Please read the first book in this trilogy, My Heart is a Chainsaw before picking this one up. Jones mentions in his Acknowledgements that he looked to The Two Towers and The Empire Strikes Back to figure out how to craft the middle part of a trilogy and I think he landed that pretty well.
SGJ is an amazing observational writer. He has such a way with descriptions that I feel I can nearly see a perfect image in my head while I am reading. I was pleased that this book also contains interludes with essays written by a student to their history teacher, a lovely reference to a similar plot device in the first book.
And boy oh boy, the themes in this book. There’s a focus on trauma, and how differently people process it (or specifically do not process it and just ignore it). There’s the usual examples of humans also being monsters, and a hefty dose of trope subversion.
The only downsides to this one is that in part due to the many POVs the plot was a little confusing to me at times. The first book in the series meandered a bit, but was a great character study of Jade, especially when it picked up in the back half of the novel. Similarly, the back half of this one also picks up the thread a bit more, with an almost manic dash to the end that keeps up.
If you’re a fan of the slasher genre, you might like this series!
Tropes in this book include: slashers, local legends, revenge plot, isolation in blizzard
CW: blood, gore, murder, firearms, implied abuse, body horror, body fluids
I received a copy of this book to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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See my other reviews about books from this author:
- My Heart is a Chainsaw (The Lake Witch Trilogy, #1) [4/5 stars]
- The Babysitter Lives [4/5 stars]