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The Only Good Indians


It may be November, but that doesn’t mean you need to pack the horror novels away. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Jones Graham is an indigenous horror novel that is dark, disturbing and weirdly entrancing. This is the first novel I have read by this author, but it is far from the last. Graham has found a niche with horror literature. He is compared to greats like Tommy Orange and called “the Jordan Peele of horror literature.” Graham's writing style is unique and it almost felt as though I was reading a stream of consciousness. I took my time, at times re-reading lines, to fully take the story in. And can we comment on this cover? I love skulls-don't ask; I know it's weird (This white tail deer skull we found at my in-law's land. I cleaned it up and spray painted it and love the look.) The side profile of the elk is haunting and is so strangely beautiful. This cover is a winner for me.


Synopsis (from Goodreads):

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.


Review:

Who knew literary horror is a thing? But Stephen Jones Graham brings it with The Only Good Indians. As I read this story, I inferred that the title comes from the horribly infamous Theodore Roosevelt quote that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” This plays into the storyline as we follow four friends who are bound together by a disturbing event from ten years ago. Lewis, Gabe, Ricky and Cassidy have all went down different paths since their youth, but they are still running from the decisions of their past involving a youth elk hunt.


There are elements of supernatural power and a mother’s revenge that play into the story. I did not expect it to get as dark as it did, but dang, it got dark. This story is a runaway train screeching down the tracks until it implodes. I couldn’t look away and I needed to see how it was going to end. The elements of nature and indigenous culture was incredibly spooky. It made the story atmospheric and added such a unique element to the horror genre.


There are some trigger/content warnings, including some pretty graphic death scenes, so be aware going in.


Rating:

3.5-4 stars


Favorite Quotes:

“This is all you really need, isn’t it? Just one good friend. Somebody you can be stupid with. Somebody who’ll peel you up off the ground, prop you against the wall.”


“We’re from where we’re from,” she says back. “Scars are part of the deal, aren’t they?”


“The land claims what you leave behind.”



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