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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

#ATBR2020 Review: The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones @jessmapreviews

The Only Good Indians 
by Stephen Graham Jones

Thank you Saga Press for these free copies.

Publisher: Saga Press
Publish Date: July 14, 2020
320 Pages
Genre: Horror

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.

My Review:

More literary fiction than horror, this cultural look at American Indians with a vengeful horror arc will either work for you or it won't - either way, you'll be thinking about it long after you turn that last page.  

For me, it took quite a while to get used to the writing style.  I was confused a lot.  Elk or human? Human or elk? Or maybe that was the point?  The first few chapters were a bit challenging, and I felt it opens up slow and never really reaches a crescendo.  However, once I did get used to the style and the pacing of how the story was unfolding, I did find myself drawn into the pages.  

This is not ordinary horror.  Yes there are some bloody and juicy scenes, but this story isn't to jump scare you... and really horror runs a broad spectrum.  Instead, we get into culture and different cultures are very fascinating.  The way these four men were being pulled by their culture and how this transcends throughout the book is truly remarkable and my favorite part. 

Any one who goes into this should go into it not thinking horror, but thinking something that is unique in what it was trying to tell.  Appreciate it as an art more than your typical read … of any genre really.  While it didn't quite work for me the way I had hoped, I certainly do appreciate it for what it is.


Jessica's Review:

Going into this, I had heard a big mix of reviews, so naturally I was even more curious about THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS when picking it up. I will say that I was anticipating something in the traditional kind of horror books, but as with every genre, there is a plethora of sub-genres. This is definitely more of a literary horror that kind of creeps up on you, not the in your face gory type horror novels. That being said, there are some graphic parts in the book, but I'd say you feel more discomfort than scared. If that makes sense.

Four young men find themselves in a fight for their lives against a revenge seeking entity that has come back to haunt them after an elk hunt years earlier. I loved the cultural aspects of this book. Seeing how culture is at the core of who these men are and how it drives them in their daily lives is always fascinating to me, and it gives us a new perspective and way of thinking. I feel like we get a good glimpse into the traditions of the American Indians through the eyes of our main characters.

While this was well written and had a unique premise, once again, I struggled with the writing style and format. I ran into this problem with one of Jones' other books, THE LAST FINAL GIRL. It was a struggle for parts of the book for me but I wanted to see how it would end. If the synopsis intrigues you, then I do recommend picking it up for the cultural aspects alone, and it's just a bonus to have a sneaking horror throughout the book.

3 stars

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