Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

Synopsis: A tale 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.

Genre: Horror, Fiction, Thriller, Adult

Published: July 14th, 2020

Length: 310 pages

My Rating: 4.5/5

Some dead things haven’t truly died, they are just biding their time. Years after a poor decision changes their lives, four friends have grown up, moved on, and put their past behind them. But the past hasn’t forgotten them, and now no matter how far they run, their past will catch up with them.

Wow, just….wow. I haven’t had a book stick in my brain like this in a long time. I didn’t know what to expect at first. The book starts off slowly, and the horror just sort of creeps up on you. When it finally takes off, it’s almost too much to handle. It kept me on my toes the whole way through, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the story even after I put the book down. 

Stephen Graham Jones really knows how to build his characters. We get to know them intimately – the way they think, their past and present selves – without feeling overloaded or too far removed from the main storyline. Each time the point of view switched, we are given a new perspective, with a unique voice. I loved the depth of detail the author went into for the story, especially in the seemingly minor aspects, like basketball and motorcycles. I learned about several new subjects just by reading this book. The “monster” was a new one for me, I have never heard of this sort of lore in any myths or fairytales I’ve read before. I ended up devouring the last half of this book in less than a day, because I needed to know what was going to happen next. All of the reading had to happen during the day though, I couldn’t handle this book too close to when I went to sleep because the images it left would give me nightmares. I think the author was really able to capture the theme of cultural identity, while also providing a gripping plot of vengeance and horror. 

This was a very good book, and I enjoyed it even though it fell way outside of my normal reading preferences. I guess it’s good to get outside of my comfort zone once in a while. I will admit, I did have a bit of trouble with the shear amount of gore the story contains. I’m not overly squeamish, but some of the descriptions really shook me, and lingered with me for days afterwards. That’s why I have several trigger warnings for this book, which are listed below to avoid spoilers. If you are a fan of horror and want to expand your repertoire, I highly recommend this book.

***Slight Spoilers Ahead***

TW: Graphic descriptions of gore, Body horror, Violence against women

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