The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
First Publication Date: 14th July 2020
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.
The Only Good Indians is a unique horror and suspense, creepy and definitely gory. I truly adored the emotional and cultural aspects of this book – the conversations that the author added about the genocide of Native Americans, preserving one’s culture, stereotypes, the current problems they face, how police treats them, and so on, brought a depth to this book and makes it way more than a jump scare.
I considered giving this 3 stars, though, because it felt so much longer than it needed to be, the pacing changing and getting so slow at times I got bored. It was also hard for me to read the first chapters, told through Ricky and Lewis’ point of views, because of the writing style being close to how they speak, which for me as an ESL reader is always a bit tough, but eventually I got used to the rhythm of it – it just took a while. All this together made me read this much slower than I usually do, especially for a horror story. Otherwise, The Only Good Indians is very intense, shocking, deliciously gory and sharp in its criticism of society’s treatment of Native Americans, all reasons why I ultimately decided to give it 4 stars instead. This was more of a slow-paced read that managed to catch me so unprepared for its horror I actually had to read some scenes twice to fully absorb them. I do love when horror books really shock you, not in the cheap way that so many jumpy movies do – Stephen Graham Jones really does it well.
The Only Good Indians will be a good match for you if you love horror and don’t mind the uneven pacing, and not so much if you prefer mainstream thrillers. I enjoyed this book and will read more from the author in the future!