The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians

by Stephen Graham Jones

  • Genre: Horror
  • Publisher: Titan Books
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Available: July 14, 2020

About the Author: Stephen Graham Jones is the author of fifteen novels and six collections. He really likes werewolves and slashers. Favorite novels change daily, but Valis and Love Medicine and Lonesome Dove and It and The Things They Carried are all usually up there somewhere. Stephen lives in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a big change from the West Texas he grew up in. He’s married with a couple kids, and probably one too many trucks. More over at http://demontheory.net or @SGJ72

Summary: Ten years after an ill-fated hunting trip led to the undue slaughter of a herd of elk—including a pregnant cow and her calf—four friends from Blackfeet Nation are scattered to the winds, running from their ancestral roots and haunted by the memory of that day. What they will soon find though, is that time does not heal all wounds, not for Ricky, Lewis, Gabriel or Cassidy, because a spectral, elk-headed woman has returned to settle the score. Now, as the hunters become the hunted, they must confront their past, or otherwise fall victim to the forces of nature and a world they just can’t seem to leave behind.

Part fable and part blood-soaked revenge story, Stephen Graham Jones’ The Only Good Indians is a triumphant novel, seamlessly blending elements of horror with a heartfelt examination of cultural and personal identity. Each of the stories weaves its own load-bearing thread, creating an arabesque of persuasive storytelling that is sure to please both the horror lover and literati alike. From the brief, atmospheric opening, to the uncompromising tales that follow, the progression is beautifully paced, consistently engaging, and downright terrifying, leaving little room to breathe as the reader moves from one character to another, seeing the intricate ways in which their past and futures have aligned. Culminating in a devastating end worthy of the greats, there is little doubt that Jones’ vision will leave even the most steadfast of horror readers looking nervously over their shoulders. 

Putting aside the novel’s capacity to terrify, it succeeds most in its ability to push past the blood and gore when it needs to, presenting a striking and thoughtful look at the effects of the Native American diaspora, and what it means to be a modern Indian in a world that marginalizes their traditions and culture. A constant contrast is presented in the story between those of the Blackfeet Nation and the people around them, making the main characters more than sympathetic, even when the inherent dichotomy within them leads to unimaginable violence. This careful balance of personas makes not only for good storytelling, but for a gritty kind of realism that strengthens the supernatural elements rather than hindering them, and ceremoniously drops Jones’ novel into a category of his own making.

Verdict:

With The Only Good Indians, Stephen Graham Jones has proven, yet again, that when it comes to writing fine literature and even finer horror, he remains unrivaled. It will only take a few pages to realize that this dark, grisly, and genuine novel has something entirely new to offer, and you owe it to yourself to take the plunge. Be warned, though, that a new staple horror has arrived, and it walks on split-hooves.

Joe Buckler

Blind Corner Reviews

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