I was reading the fourth book of the Iron Druid series, which has a heavy slant on Dîné (Navajo) folklore, and I suddenly remembered a book of stories I started (but hadn't quite finished before I had to return it to the library) around 2017-2018 involving a set of intertwining stories based on Native American folklore, and set in a town with a high proportion of Native Americans, maybe even a reservation. These are the stories I remember, roughly in order.

  1. A boy is living with his often-drunk father after his mother left them some years ago. He is tormented by an undead deer-headed creature in the night until he finds evidence that his father killed his mother for trying to leave him, whereupon he gets his father's gun and shoots his father. Part of the story had a set of bullies try to take a piece of jewelry from him, only to be beaten up by the boy's father.
  2. A girl in high school shows no academic prowess in school, and almost never speaks, but aces every test. She also has a violent temper and a tendency to use disproportionate force against bullies (which has resulted in a scar across her face). It turns out she has a way to create a "magic mirror" that lets her see other places, and into people's heads, allowing her to read test keys in class. Coyote, or someone like him, shows up to teach her to use her gifts. I remember there was a scene where he changed a ketchup bottle back and forth from a bottle of Coca-Cola. She practices the tricks on a mesa, on her dog. I remember there were tricks of illusion and tricks of mental manipulation (she would make her dog think that something was food when it wasn't, or remove his desire for a piece of food). In between, there are interludes showing that she's using her abilities to get revenge on people in school. I remember one case involving a girl who felt so compelled to keep her teeth clean that she was bleeding heavily from the mouth before people could stop her. After a confrontation with a bully, which results in her finding her dog shot in the head, she decides that the children in the school aren't worth saving, so she sets herself up on a ridge above the schoolyard, and starts shooting them, while keeping their minds closed such that they don't realize people are dying around them. It's heavily implied, if not stated, that this is what the man who trained her wanted.
  3. A man with the ability to draw strength from the dead shows up in town. He needs artifacts from the body, generally hair and jewelry, and has to be careful because their ghosts haunt him while he holds their artifacts. One of the artifacts he picks up is jewelry from one of the girls shot in the prior story, and I think there's a scene where he visits the playground, and notes that although the pools of blood have been cleaned up, they're still visible in the spirit world. I'm pretty sure he confronts the trickster from the prior story, and kills him. Despite that, I'm pretty sure the main character of the story was far from benevolent, more like a ghoul who lives on stolen life.
  4. The fourth story involves a boy who's a competitive runner. I think maybe he'd sustained a career-ending injury prior to the start of the story. While training, he's struck by lightning, which injures him further, and puts a white streak in his hair. The next day he feels fine, and in fact is running faster than before, but things start dying around him, I think starting with his favorite horse. He's also possessed of a terrible hunger that makes him do things like eat raw meat because he can't wait long enough to cook it. I think there's bird imagery, maybe the Thunderbird, involved. I hadn't finished this story when I returned the book.

The book was in English, and was electronic. It might have been an audiobook. I got it from the Carnegie Public Library system, through Overdrive.


1 Answer 1


I think it might be Coyote Tales. Your description of the first four stories really resembles the blurbs given on the linked page. I have not read this book but I think I want to.

Source: I searched Google for "horror" "Navajo" site:overdrive.com

Coyote Tales cover

  • 2
    Having listened to the audio of the first story "Reservation Monsters" it's definitely this. The narrator (Kendrick) mentions that his dad had been drinking a lot since before his mother left that winter. One night the scratching beneath his bed reveals itself as an antlered deer figure with grass growing from its back. He recognizes the head of ".30-06 elk" that his dad shot, with many-jointed (5) fingers ending in tiny hooves...
    – DavidW
    Jun 10, 2019 at 20:47
  • 1
    ... Coyote shows up and teaches Kendrick how to deal with it, and the deer-figure shows him the evidence that his father killed his mother. (Her body is buried under the house.) At the end of the story he understands that there are monsters and there are monsters; he takes his father's .45 and thinks that his father taught him how to deal with monsters.
    – DavidW
    Jun 10, 2019 at 20:47
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    Links to podcasts of the 2nd and 3rd stories are on the page linked above, but I haven't listened to them yet.
    – DavidW
    Jun 10, 2019 at 20:48
  • Ah, thanks. That would be the one.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 10, 2019 at 21:46

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