Picture this. A novella about two sisters: Sis and Amy. One of them alive, one of them dead. The living one muscular and feisty. The dead one reincarnated… as a chainsaw. Together they set off to get their revenge on Amy’s killers. Cue rampage, gore, mayhem. And, in case you missed it, a talking chainsaw.
Let me repeat that. A. Talking. Chainsaw.
I couldn’t help being intrigued. How on earth did author Jacob Floyd come up with such a, frankly, bonkers idea? Fortunately the novella includes an introduction which outlines its background. A nice touch, especially as it lists the story’s influences. They range from Quentin Tarantino to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s fair to say that the story combines the ultraviolence of the former with the desolate atmosphere of the latter. In case you hadn’t noticed yet, Chainsaw Sisters is not for readers who are easily offended by gore.
Perhaps because of its cinematic influences, Chainsaw Sisters has a film-like feel to it. The graphic violence of the sisters’s killing spree is as vivid as it is disturbing. In places the story reminded me of Samuel R. Delany’s novel Hogg, which is equally dark and disjointed. Just like Hogg, Chainsaw Sisters appears to be set in a narrative universe that looks vaguely recognizable. Normal rules of logic, however, don’t apply here. Frequent flashbacks further contribute to the feeling of disorientation the story evokes. My advice is to simply lean back and enjoy the ride. There’s not much else you can do when faced with a murderous chainsaw and its wielder, right?
While Chainsaw Sisters would have satisfied me had it been nothing but an extended gore fest – we all need those sometimes – it also contains a surprising plot twist which turns the entire story on its head, and which I’m obviously not going to spoil. Suffice to say that the story answers some questions but invites many more. The narrative seems to go on long after you’ve finished reading the last page as you keep on wondering what happened to the characters. Where did they go, who did they meet, and most importantly: did they get what they set out for?
Chainsaw Sisters also contains three short stories, of which I like Street Cheese best. Again, a crazy idea executed so well that the result is an insane rollercoaster ride of a story. Ever wondered what would happen if pizza would turn everyone who consumed it into a murderous cheese monster? Well, read this story and find out. It’s a delicious assault of quick-fire scenes of carnage with, again, an unexpected twist at the end. Anyone worrying about the supposedly negative influence of horror on society can rest easily. Killer pizzas are obviously restricted to the realm of fiction and fiction alone. And yet… It will take a while before I dare to order a pepperoni special again.
Curious? Sample and order Chainsaw Sisters here
Image: Chainsaw Sisters cover (author Jacob Floyd, cover art Lydia Burris, design Holly Wholahan)