Paula Guran Reviews The Angel of Indian Lake by Stephen Graham Jones – Locus Online


Paula Guran Reviews The Angel of Indian Lake by Stephen Graham Jones – Locus Online

cover of angel of indian lake by jonesThe Angel of Indian Lake, Stephen Graham Jones (Saga 978-1-66801-166-9, $28.99, 464pp, hc) March 2024.

Jade Daniels – the uber-Final Girl – returns to the bloodily beleaguered town of Proofrock, Idaho, in The Angel of Indian Lake, the last installment of Stephen Graham Jones’s brilliant Indian Lake Trilogy. It’s October 2023, four years since the events of Don’t Fear the Reaper; eight years since we first met Jade Daniels in My Heart is a Chainsaw. When we initially encountered Jade, she was a suicidal 17-year-old lover of slasher flicks. She’s still a slasher girl, but now – thanks to a degree earned during two stints in prison, court-mandated therapy, prescription medication, and her ‘‘champion and main benefactor’’ Letha Mondragon-Tompkins (another Final Girl) – Jade is teaching history at the high school she once despised. After all the horrible events of previous years, Jade is still, understandably, traumatized. But she’s dealing with it. Jade has found a family in Letha; Letha’s husband, ex-football star and the town’s current sheriff, Banner Tompkins; and their daughter Adie. Thanks to Isabel Yazzie, a Navajo/Pueblo woman she met in prison, Blackfeet Jade – who knew nothing of her heritage – has learned more of what being a Native American means. Plus, Jade’s determined not to get involved in saving Proofrock for a third time. Nope. Despite two, maybe three, kids missing; a growing fire in the national forest; a dad decapitated in his Honda in the ‘‘hug-n-go’’ lane of the elementary school, and with Halloween coming – she’s out of it. Naturally, that determination doesn’t last long. As Jade explains: ‘‘People are dying. The real cops aren’t coming.’’ There’s also the nagging fact that Jade believes it was she who ‘‘called the horror down on Proofrock’’ to start with. Now it is up to her to put it down whenever it rises again. Be prepared, dear reader! Jones prompts us (deep into the novel) with Randy Meek’s ‘‘rules for the third of a trilogy’’ from the film Scream 3: ‘‘Killer who’s superhuman… Anyone can die…’’ and ‘‘the past comes back to bite you in the ass…’’ (Caution: Even the movie didn’t actually follow those rules.) Further along in the plot, we are reminded that Randy also explained that ‘‘the third time around’s a complete gorefest.’’ The Angel of Indian Lake certainly lives up to that rule. But, as with the two previous novels, this is not simplistic slasher fiction. There is layer upon layer here: past and current societal and personal injustices, the meaning of relationship and fam­ily, the role of the outsider and the traumatized, the nature of evil – both supernatural and human – and more. Jones slyly misleads here and there as well. Reading the first two books is helpful – especially to fully appreciate Jade’s growth – but Jones does a stellar job of tying everything into and up in this concluding volume. Even if we never get to read more about Jade and the oth­ers, the author provides some clues to a future we can imagine. And yes, readers who – like this reviewer (she had to google those Scream 3 references) – lack the apparently inexhaustible knowledge of slasher cinema possessed by the author and his characters will still enjoy not only this novel but its predecessors. The entire trilogy is landmark fiction, an absolute must-read.

Paula Guran has edited more than 40 science fiction, fantasy, and horror anthologies and more than 50 novels and collections featuring the same. She’s reviewed and written articles for dozens of publications. She lives in Akron OH, near enough to her grandchildren to frequently be indulgent.

This review and more like it in the May 2024 issue of Locus.

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