On reading: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Time to read:

2 minutes

Title: The Only Good Indians 

Author: Stephen Graham Jones 

From the back: The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones. 

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way. 

The gist: This is a book of multiple horrors; spiritual, folklore-esque horrors, as well as real-world horrors of discrimination and racism. It’s a deep hearted book, at times genuinely heart-warming, at others shocking and brutal. Set against the backdrop of growing up as an American Indian, Jones explores life on and off the reservations. He introduces us to the four main characters in turn, and you come to know them like old friends. He shows us a small piece of their lives – a tragic coming of age tale, one that ultimately leads to a vengeful darkness pursuing them into their adult lives. He expertly balances the sense of community, tragedy, friendship and horror. 

It’s the sort of book that etches images into your mind, leaves pictures sure to revisit you in your dreams. The power and character Jones portrays for the elk is genuinely impressive, the sense of place is brilliantly done, and the pacing draws you in – the book creeps up on you and refuses to let you go. 

The Only Good Indians, with its blend of horrors but tinged with hope, proves to be the sort of read that stays with you long after the last page has turned. Hauntingly good stuff. 

Favourite line: “Like they’re kids again, learning to break-dance.” 

Read if: You want a horror that sends chills down your spine but has a strong, beating heart to it that cuts tenderness through the horrors. 

Read with: Definitely no plans to go hunting any time soon. 

Get it: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones – out in July 2020

ARC copy gratefully received from Netgalley and Gallery Books

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