An elk mother, cornered, will slash with her hooves and tear with her mouth and even offer the hope of her own hamstrings, and if none of that works, she’ll rise again years and years later, because it’s never over, it’s always just beginning again.– The Only Good Indians
Summary and Thoughts
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 was one my most anticipated reads of the month, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take in this unique story. Jones creates a creepy, atmospheric narrative in this novel, following the dark fates of four Blackfeet Indigenous American men ten years after a hunting trip gone wrong. The origin and “creature” of horror in this story is expertly designed – a memorable adversary with an interesting, emotionally gripping backstory. As for the negatives, unfortunately, I found the writing a bit difficult to consume – Jones seems to weave in description, inner dialogue, and plot summary within sentences and paragraphs, making scenes difficult to place in time – dampening some of the book’s most horrific scenes. The characters also fell short for me for this reason, their personalities only slightly distinct. While their actions and fates are certainly shocking, I don’t think they’ll linger with me. Finally, I found the ending a bit rushed and lacking that final emotional gut punch. With this all in mind, this is going to be a hit or miss book for many, mainly due to the writing style. If you enjoy writing with twists and turns even within its own sentences, then perhaps you’ll enjoy this book more than me.
P.S. I also found this interview helpful in understanding how women are treated in this novel as well. Warning: SPOILERS GALORE IN THIS!
For Those Who Enjoyed
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- Conjure Women by Afia Atakora
- The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot
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