The Only Good Indians

The Only Good IndiansThe Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If I were to tell you this novel is about a group of friends threatened by a supernatural force ten years after a transgression they committed in the past, I’m sure you’d tell me you’ve heard it before. However, acclaimed author Stephen Graham Jones makes this time-worn story feel wholly original again by telling it through a lens we rarely see in horror fiction: American Indian life, both on and off the reservation. Jones is a great storyteller, but where he really shines is in characterization. In THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS, you’ll meet characters you feel like you’ve known intimately for years, even if your own background and life experience is completely different. Just to illustrate how good he is with characterization, there’s one character who’s only in the first third of the novel who is so well drawn I was surprised to discover they’re not the protagonist.

But THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS is also a horror novel, and let me tell you, things get brutal. The violence is quick, shocking, and devastating because we know these characters so well. There’s no anonymous cannon fodder here. Each act of violence is as painful to the reader as to the characters. I could go on about how great this book is, and how memorable everyone in it is, but I’ll spare you the gushing. I’ll only say this: The ending is the most important part of a horror novel — you could say it’s the most important part of any novel, but in my opinion horror is where a whiffed ending does the most damage to an otherwise good story — and THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS’ ending is resonant and note-perfect. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.

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