April 22nd, 2020

book collector

Book 23

The Only Good IndiansThe Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I was pleased to get a copy of this from Netgalley in return for a review, which in no way influenced my review. I have often wanted half stars with Goodreads but no luck. This is a 3.5 read for me but I rounded up mostly because it was a me, not the book thing. The second half has a heavy reliance on basketball. I didn’t even like it when I played and I liked reading about it even less.

So being horror, you can imagine horrific things happen. Ten years ago, four friends, members of the Blackfeet tribe, did something they shouldn’t, hunted on land meant for the elders. They didn’t quite get away with it but no one got hurt, so they thought other than maybe some emotional scars. They were wrong. Ten years later, the men have gone their own way, Ricky is off on his own. Lewis has married a White woman and is off the reservation working as a postal carrier and feels pretty good about his life. Cassidy and Gabriel are still on the reservation, the latter falling victim to himself and alcohol. His pride is his daughter, Denorah (living with her mother and step dad) who is a fantastic basketball player.

We spend very little time with Rick but it gives us our first hints as to what the ‘entity’ is in the blurb and I don’t plan to say more than entity because the first half of the book is all about peeling back the layers, letting us see what these friends did and what is back for revenge.

I really enjoyed Lewis and his arc. Out of all of them, him I felt sorry for. His life with his wife and the new Crow lady co-worker who’s come into his life was interesting. I liked this comic book reading, rather sensitive guy. You can almost believe he doesn’t quite deserve what’s coming for him. His fear as he works it out is palpable.

The second half of the book worked less for me. Maybe it was all the basketball which just went on way too long for me. Maybe it was that I liked Cass and Gabe less. Both of them, however, do shine a light on the poverty and hopelessness that can be found on the reservations. I say this as an outsider with an outsider’s point of view. I was a reservation doctor for a year so I’ve seen it but again only as an outsider. That said, this felt true to what I had seen for myself.

Without spoiling anything, things have been hitting them hard. They are sad but they are also reaching out to Victor (reservation cop) and his son, Nathan who is going down the wrong path. They’re going to try to have a sweat lodge/sing for Nathan to help him spirituality and get him back on track.

Again, being horror, you can imagine this might not go well.

The entity is creepy, steeped in Blackfeet lore and her reasons for her actions are understandable, except maybe the final action against someone who hadn’t anything to do with it. All of the men are well drawn as is Denorah.

My biggest gripe is the ending went on way too long. It dragged for me (again with the basketball). But other than that it was a creepy horror and worth the read.




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