The August Buddy Read Book from Otherland was The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, published 14 July 2020. The Magpie’s prediction – in a private chat – was right. (If she’s right with the next three books too, we should consider buying a lottery ticket.)
Ten years ago, the week before Thanksgiving, four Native American men went on a hunt. The four Blackfeet shot and butchered a lot of elk, but came home empty handed. This event will haunt them.
The story has a stuttering start, because the four protagonists have to be introduced. Once the reader has an idea of who the players are and what went down ten years ago, it’s hard to stop turning the pages. (I overshot the buddyread mark twice.)
This is a horror story. There is suspense and lots of graphic violence. The switching POV heightens the characters’ feeling of fear that’s leading to madness. But, and here’s the main reason why this is not a five star read for me, this is where this revenge story stops tingling spines. The fear never left the page, I didn’t turn around and look for someone with a knife behind me once. The story’s outcome was clear from the start; and the title is a dead give-away (excuse the pun).
So what sets this story apart from all the other slasher horror novels? It’s the cultural identity, the #ownvoice, that makes the characters and story come alive.
Jones provides a background to his four protagonists that does not paint the idyllic picture most people conjure up first when seeing the word Native Americans. He shows us rusting trucks, tiny improvised sweat lodges, unemployment, guilt at not living a true-to-your-roots life, and lots of basketball.
This is a solid slasher horror read for anyone who is easily spooked. I’d recommend reading it for the glimpse into a culture we hardly ever hear about outside of history books.
4/5 Goodreads stars