Tiny Navajo Reads ARCs: The Only Good Indians

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October 12, 2020 by TinyNavajo

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

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*Published July 14, 2020*

*I borrowed this ARC from a friend, my opinions and review are my own.*

As stated in previous reviews and writings, I don’t normally read horror as I have an overactive imagination and I do not need nightmare fuel on top of my already weird dreams. But my library system is working on material for Native American Heritage Month and I volunteered to read and do a book talk on three books, this being one of them. It was…interesting to say the least.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

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.

In this chilling book, we see the consequences of wrongly using land and resources for your own gain, and how those consequences will always follow you, even if you believe you’ve run away from them.

While not focusing on my tribe, it does ring true in some ways. I can feel the horror and the disbelief of something following you from not only your tribal stories, but your own disregard of tribal policies. I could feel the edgy-ness of the whole thing, of Lewis not quite believing what his eyes are seeing, on knowing that the mistake that he and his friends made over 10 years ago has now come back to literally haunt his ass. I could feel the not quite here or there of both Gabe and Cassidy not believing, or wanting to believe that what happened to their friends could ever happen to them.

While not a typical horror fest, full of blood and gore of innocent people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, this is still horror. But it the horror of something coming after you because of something that you did. There are many horror stories where your consequences are the reason you’re being hunted, but I think that’s what makes this story work. There is an actual reason here as to why the four friends are the ones who are being chased and killed. And the relentlessness of the avenging “angel” is also terrifying. We, as humans, are pursuers, that’s our superpower, we just can go and go and go at a steady pace and still follow our prey. Now, for Lewis, Gabe, and Cassidy, they are the prey and they are being pursued. All of which leads to a fantastic chase scene at the end of the book that leads to a twist that I didn’t see coming and that gave a small amount of hope that the end of the story.

I would say that if you’re looking for a horror story this Halloween and aren’t afraid to dive into the thinking of a Native American, in some respects, then you should give The Only Good Indians a try. You may find that you keep looking over your shoulder for your own consequences. What types of books do you like to read for the spooky season? And do you read horror books? Why or why not? Comment below and let me know!

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