I will try to do this review justice, as I read it back in October and then fell off the face of the Earth and made no progress with reviews. It’s not because I didn’t enjoy this book, because I really did. Probably because I have never really read a whole lot of horror in the past, Jones is a name in the literary world that was new to me. He visited the Springfield-Greene County Library for their Halloween horror series, so I wanted to make sure to read this book prior to his talk so I could be familiar with his work. And what a refreshing new-to-me author he is. It was a real pleasure getting to meet him and listen to him talk about his work, and I managed to pick up a copy of The Only Good Indians and get him to sign it. I look forward to reading it after the start of the new year.
Jade Daniel isn’t like other kids in her school. People see her as a bit troubled and weird, and she’s not just a fan of slasher films. Slasher films are her lifeblood. If she isn’t watching slashers, she’s writing about slashers, thinking about slashers, or talking about slashers. When bodies start turning up in her sleepy little town, Jade realizes she’s found herself in a slasher of her very own. Using her wits and extensive knowledge of the formula of the slasher, she will follow this real-life movie to its dramatic conclusion. Step #1, she has to convince the town’s archetypal final girl that she must embrace her role in the drama to come if they are destined to vanquish the evil forces at play.
This is such a refreshingly unique piece of horror. It’s a celebration of a really popular genre of film, one to which I’m not incredibly familiar, but I still enjoyed the story. At times, the narrative is very twisty and complicated, and there’s always a pervasive psychological element. Jade is someone we want to trust, but we truly aren’t sure that we can. As the reader, I could tell Jade has a special place in Jones’ heart, because he crafted her with such depth and careful consideration. It’s pretty clear that there’s a part of Jade that IS Stephen Graham Jones, that he left a piece of his soul in the pages of her story. She’s just the right mix of imperfect human qualities to qualify as a perfect character. She feels real and raw, like honey fresh from the hive. You want to reach it, but if you try you might get a nasty sting. Underneath, though, is a sad little girl who was never given the opportunity to thrive, and she’s merely looking for her place in an unforgiving world. By the end of the book, if you don’t love her a little bit, there’s something wrong with you. But just like the people I love in real life, Jade’s obsessive nature could get a little annoying from time to time and I wanted to shake some sense into her.
The plot is quite twisty. The novel moves at a pretty rapid pace throughout. On audio, I sometimes found myself losing track of things, which I think was my fault more than the fault of the book, as I’m often trying to multitask. Don’t multitask with this one. Grab the reins and hold on for dear life, because your full attention is required. As far as the horror element is concerned, Jones does not hold back. This book is gruesome, gory, and at times just plain gross. Unless rotting elk carcasses are your thing, you might find yourself making the eww face more than a few times.
Frankly, there’s not a whole lot I can say about this book without giving away too much about the plot or the direction, so I’m really just going to leave it at that. If you are looking for a good horror novel with pretty superb writing and a fascinating main character, this is the book for you. And check out some more of Stephen Graham Jones’ work while you’re at it. He has a refreshing mix of eclectic literary horror from which to choose. Overall, I give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
Published August 31, 2021 by Simon and Schuster Audio. ISBN: 1797123327. Runtime 12 hrs 25 mins. Read by Cara Gee.