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The only good Indians : a novel
2020
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"Peter Straub's Ghost Story meets Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies in this American Indian horror story of revenge on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Four American Indian men from the Blackfeet Nation, who were childhood friends, find themselves in a desperate struggle for their lives, against an entity that wants to exact revenge upon them for what they did during an elk hunt ten years earlier by killing them, their families, and friends"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

A novel that blends classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From USA TODAY bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones comes a &;masterpiece&; (Locus Magazine) of a novel about revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition. Labeled &;one of 2020&;s buzziest horror novels&; (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story that &;will give you nightmares&;the good kind of course&; (BuzzFeed).

From New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones comes a novel that is equal parts psychological horror and cutting social commentary on identity politics and the American Indian experience. Fans of Jordan Peele and Tommy Orange will love this story as it follows the lives of four American Indian men and their families, all haunted by a disturbing, deadly event that took place in their youth. Years later, they find themselves tracked by an entity bent on revenge, totally helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way. - (Simon and Schuster)

Author Biography

Stephen Graham Jones is the New York Times bestselling author of The Only Good Indians. He has been an 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. He is the Ivena Baldwin Professor of English at the University of Colorado Boulder. - (Simon and Schuster)

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

With a lengthy bibliography full of titles like Mongrels (2016) and After the People Lights Have Gone Off (2014), Jones has proven his horror mettle, but his latest novel steers the genre into some unexpected territory. When a group of young friends hunt elk on a section of land set aside for Blackfoot tribal elders, they set into motion a vengeance that will shadow the rest of their lives. Even fleeing the desperation of the reservation doesn't save them from the consequences of their act. One by one, they're stalked by a supernatural force that sprang into being on the night of the hunt. The Only Good Indians certainly brings the requisite genre shocks, but also functions as a serious look at modern Native American culture, both inside and outside the reservation. These themes make the book weightier than typical scare fare and, while some of the shifts in narrative focus feel abrupt, the overall work is very impactful. A solid tale about a community that hasn't often received serious treatment in the horror genre. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews

The Only Good Indians

Stephen Graham Jones pulls off an interesting feat in his new novel, The Only Good Indians. He makes you question whether you should root for the four Native American friends who shot and killed a family of elk on a hunting trip or for the spirit of the elk as it seeks revenge against them.

Ten years ago, while hunting on land designated for use by their tribal elders, Ricky, Lewis, Gabe and Cass opened fire on a small elk herd with reckless abandon, killing far more than they should have, including one that was pregnant. The now 30-something men have moved off of the Blackfeet reservation, but the incident still haunts Lewis, who has always felt guilty about the deed as well as about having turned his back on his culture.

When Lewis sees a vision of the elk’s calf in his living room, his guilt begins to consume him. He suspects the elk’s spirit has taken the form of a friend, Shaney, and he sets a grisly trap for her. But Lewis’ irrational fears continue, and before long, he suspects the entity has switched forms again, this time taking on that of his wife, Peta. Confused by Lewis’ actions at first, Gabe and Cass soon begin to experience the wrath of the elk’s spirit as well, leading up to a frantic finale.

Borrowing a bit from his previous novel, Mongrels, which explored the mindset of a family of werewolves, Jones’ latest novel dips into the elk’s perspective in several chapters. As a result, the reader is torn as to which faction—men or beast—is more deserving of empathy. The Only Good Indians unfolds at a slow and steady pace that offers ample opportunities for sharp commentary on history, past choices and the identity crises of a group of Native American men. It toys with impending doom, then slaps you in the face with violence.

Copyright 2020 BookPage Reviews.

BookPage Reviews

Book Clubs: February 2021

Fight the winter doldrums with four fresh takes on the supernatural.

Danvers, Massachusetts, site of the 1692 witch trials, is the setting of Quan Barry’s enchanting novel We Ride Upon Sticks (Vintage, $16.95, 9780525565437). The year is 1989, and the teenage girls on the Danvers Falcons field hockey team are desperate to get to the state finals, so they sign a pact of sorts with the devil. The pact seems to work, as the team hits a winning streak, and all manner of witchy teenage mischief ensues. As many ’80s references as a “Stranger Things” fan could desire and a group of unforgettable female characters make this a delightful read, and Barry’s exploration of gender roles and female friendship will spur spirited discussion in your reading group.

In TJ Klune’s fantastical tale The House in the Cerulean Sea, Linus Baker, caseworker from the cold, impersonal Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY), must decide if a group of enchanted youngsters poses a threat to the future of the world. When he befriends the odd bunch (which includes a gnome, a strange blob and the actual Antichrist) and falls for Arthur Parnassus, their kindhearted and devoted caretaker, Linus’ loyalty to DICOMY wavers. Klune contributes to the tradition of using speculative fiction to obliquely discuss the experiences of marginalized groups in this funny, inventive and gently told novel.

Stephen Graham Jones’ chilling The Only Good Indians tells the story of Lewis and his three friends, Native American men who left the Blackfoot reservation in search of a different life and who share a bond from a traumatic event in their childhood. When Lewis is visited by an ominous elklike figure, mysterious deaths start to occur, and the men realize that their past has—literally—come back to haunt them. Jones’ atmospheric novel is compelling both as a horror novel and in its treatment of guilt, social identity and the complexities (and dangers) of assimilation. The canny, surprising ways he combines Native history and traditions with horror tropes will give your book club plenty to talk about.

J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker offer a spine-tingling supplement to Bram Stoker’s iconic Dracula with Dracul. Bram is the main character and narrator of Barker and Stoker’s Ireland-set tale (and yes, Dacre Stoker is the real-life great-grandnephew of the Victorian author). As a boy, Bram has strange encounters with his nursemaid, Ellen Crone, who seems connected to a series of local deaths. When Bram and his sister, Matilda, learn years later that Ellen is a member of the bloodsucking undead, they find themselves in the center of a terrifying mystery. Reading groups will enjoy making connections between Stoker’s original story and this creepy companion novel as they examine the conventions and devices of both supernatural narratives.

Copyright 2021 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

A violent tale of vengeance, justice, and generational trauma from a prolific horror tinkerer. Jones (Mapping the Interior, 2017, etc.) delivers a thought-provoking trip to the edge of your seat in this rural creature feature. Four young Blackfeet men ignore the hunting boundaries of their community and fire into an elk herd on land reserved for the elders, but one elk proves unnaturally hard to kill. Years later, they're forced to answer for their act of selfish violence, setting into motion a supernatural hunt in which predator becomes prey. The plot meanders ever forward, stopping and starting as it vies for primacy with the characters. As Jones makes his bloody way through the character rotation, he indulges in reflections on rural life, community expectations, and family, among other things, but never gets lost in the weeds. From the beer bottles decorating fences to free-throw practice on the old concrete pad in the cold, the Rez and its silent beauty establishes itself as an important character in the story, and one that each of the other characters must reckon with before the end. Horror's genre conventions are more than satisfied, often in ways that surprise or subvert expectations; fans will grin when they come across clever nods and homages sprinkled throughout that never feel heavy-handed or too cute. While the minimalist prose propels the narrative, it also serves to establish an eerie tone of detachment that mirrors the characters' own questions about what it means to live distinctly Native lives in today's world—a world that obscures the line between what is traditional and what is contemporary. Form and content strike a delicate balance in this work, allowing Jones to revel in his distinctive voice, which has always lingered, quiet and disturbing, in the stark backcountry of the Rez. Jones hits his stride with a smart story of social commentary—it's scary good. Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews

Ten years prior to the start of this story, four young Blackfeet went hunting on tribal lands normally reserved only for the elders and ended up killing a female Elk, oddly pregnant during the wrong time of year. Now, as adults with families and responsibilities, the men still carry the heavy guilt of that day, as well they should—the spirit of the Elk has been waiting to make each one of them pay the ultimate price. This classic tale of revenge horror oscillates among eerie moments, violent action, and an overarching sense of dread. With close narrations from three of the four men, one of their teen daughters, and the Elk herself, there is an intensity, a breathless desperation that lurks just under the story's surface, giving the sense that everything that is about to happen, no matter how terrible, is inevitable and cannot be stopped. It is also a heartbreakingly beautiful story about hope and survival, grappling with themes of cultural identity, family, and traditions. VERDICT One of the most anticipated horror titles of 2020, Jones's latest does not disappoint. While fully entrenched within the genre, its well-developed cast, lyrical language, and heightened suspense will have broad appeal. Fans of Paul Tremblay, Victor LaValle, and Samanta Schweblin will be delighted.

Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Jones (Mapping the Interior) spins a sharp, remarkable horror story out of a crisis of cultural identity. Lewis and his three childhood friends, now in their 30s, have all moved away from the soul-sucking depression of the Blackfeet Reservation where they grew up, leading Lewis to believe "he deserves some big Indian award for having... avoided all the car crashes and jail time and alcoholism on his cultural dance card." Then a mysterious entity in the form of an elk begins to dog Lewis's every move. Though he doesn't understand why the elk-shaped demon has come to haunt him, he slowly realizes it wants revenge for him distancing himself from his ancestors' beliefs. As people around Lewis start to die, his paranoia about the elk mounts, leading him to acts of violence of his own. Jones's writing is raw, balancing on the knife-edge between dark humor and all-out gore as he forces his characters to reckon with their pasts, as well as their culture's. This novel works both as a terrifying chiller and as biting commentary on the existential crisis of indigenous peoples adapting to a culture that is bent on eradicating theirs. Challenging and rewarding, this tale will thrill Jones's fans and garner him plenty of new readers. Agent: BJ Robbins, BJ Robbins Literary. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Jones (Mapping the Interior) spins a sharp, remarkable horror story out of a crisis of cultural identity. Lewis and his three childhood friends, now in their 30s, have all moved away from the soul-sucking depression of the Blackfeet Reservation where they grew up, leading Lewis to believe "he deserves some big Indian award for having... avoided all the car crashes and jail time and alcoholism on his cultural dance card." Then a mysterious entity in the form of an elk begins to dog Lewis's every move. Though he doesn't understand why the elk-shaped demon has come to haunt him, he slowly realizes it wants revenge for him distancing himself from his ancestors' beliefs. As people around Lewis start to die, his paranoia about the elk mounts, leading him to acts of violence of his own. Jones's writing is raw, balancing on the knife-edge between dark humor and all-out gore as he forces his characters to reckon with their pasts, as well as their culture's. This novel works both as a terrifying chiller and as biting commentary on the existential crisis of indigenous peoples adapting to a culture that is bent on eradicating theirs. Challenging and rewarding, this tale will thrill Jones's fans and garner him plenty of new readers. Agent: BJ Robbins, BJ Robbins Literary. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

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