The Only Good Indians turned out to be one of the two best books I read in 2023. The other is Lone Woman by Victor Lavalle.
This is a book about tradition. It is a book about how human beings make mistakes. It is a book about man's inhumanity to man (and animals). It is a book rife with symbolism and subtle allegory. It is also a book about mercy, remorse and decency.
Oh, and by the way it is a horror novel.
The Only Good Indians has the power to startle, repulse and frighten. It may be one of the most fascinating and masterfully written horror books I have ever read. I had to put it down several times because what might come next made me nervous. It sketches characters who appear briefly but that you still feel for and empathize with–even when they are far from being in the right.
The writing is masterful. I was in awe of how it moved from a style that seemed almost a basic drama before shifting into the terrifying and then the mystical. It does all this with fluidity and ease. Parts of The Only Good Indians seem to be almost poetry. In some cases it even brought tears to my eyes (you will know what part of the book I refer to when you read it).
I want to do nothing to reveal anything about the details in this book. I want you to read it as I did, with no expectations aside from the vague one that it was "horror" and that it was focused on Native Americans. It is a unique horror book and it is written with a subtlety that is awe inspiring. It gives a peak into a culture that is unfamiliar to us European types. Sure we may have been taught about the culture of Native Americans but we don’t see much about these cultures and how they are now in our media (be that television, novels, film etc).