The Only Good Indians: Book Review

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For the following review, since the novel just recently came out, I’ll be careful to avoid spoilers!

The Author

Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet Native American author who writes experimental fiction, horror fiction, crime fiction, and science fiction. He has published 22 books under the age of 50 – including Mapping the Interior, My Hero, and Mongrels. On top of being a prolific writer, SGJ is also a NEA fellowship recipient, has won the Jesse Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, a Bram Stoker Award, four This is Horror Awards, and has been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award. Currently, he is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The Novel

Ten years ago outside Browning, Montana, four Blackfeet shot some elk, and then went on with their lives. It happens every year, it’s been happening forever, it’s the way it’s always been. But this time it’s different. Ten years after that fateful hunt, these men are being stalked, are being hunted themselves. By who? By . . . what? And why? Some hunting expeditions, they’re never really over. This one’s just beginning.

– SGJ’s official website

The Only Good Indians is a novel that blends classical horror and social commentary. It starts off with the bizarre killing of one of four friends, then transitions to the haunting of a second by the phantom of an elk he killed when he was younger.

The Review

“One of 2020’s buzziest horror novels.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Jones is one of the best writers working today regardless of genre, and this gritty, heartbreaking novel might just be his best yet.”

—NPR

At first I struggled with Jones’ writing style in this novel, as it felt a little disjointed and confusing. However, I pushed through it (or got used to it?) and quite enjoyed The Only Good Indians.

SGJ created realistic and compelling characters, with their own flaws and back stories that serve to draw the reader in. I also loved the unique ghost/supernatural entity that served as the villain of the story. The final struggle (a basketball game, much like a fiddling contest against the Devil and a frantic chase through the snow) was amazing.

The story and myth, the tragic horror and struggle, drew me in and I ended up finishing the book in two days because I couldn’t put it down. It’s a really haunting tale.

If you are like me and start the book and struggle with the writing style, I’d recommend just pushing through. The story is worth it.

8/10

x P.L. McMillan

p.s. what does “buzziest” even mean in regards to a novel review? Does anyone know? It’s “buzzing”? Eh, what now?

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