Night of the Mannequins
A Tor.com Original
by Stephen Graham Jones
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
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Pub Date 01 Sep 2020 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2020
Award-winning author Stephen Graham Jones returns with Night of the Mannequins, a contemporary horror story where a teen prank goes very wrong and all hell breaks loose: is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both?
We thought we'd play a fun prank on her, and now most of us are dead.
One last laugh for the summer as it winds down. One last prank just to scare a friend. Bringing a mannequin into a theater is just some harmless fun, right? Until it wakes up. Until it starts killing.
Luckily, Sawyer has a plan. He’ll be a hero. He'll save everyone to the best of his ability. He'll do whatever he needs to so he can save the day. That's the thing about heroes—sometimes you have to become a monster first.
"Suffused with questions about the nature of change and friendship, “Night of the Mannequins” is a fairy tale of impermanence showcasing Graham Jones’s signature style of smart, irreverent horror." —The New York Times
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 114 members
Only Stephen Graham Jones could have written something this weird. Truly a master of horror and of the slasher novel, he manages to make a villain out of an inanimate object - but wait, of course there’s a twist! For how short the story is, the characters are developed quite well, particularly the narrator. You’ll experience a whole array of emotions as you’re dragged along on the narrator’s harrowing ride - shock, confusion, disgust, trepidation, frustration. This one starts out going 0 to 100, and it never slows down.
This was one wild and weird novella and I absolutely loved it. Remember that Doctor Who episode "Rose" where Rose and the Doctor were chased by mannequins and how creepy that was? Now imagine if one of those mannequins was a murderer hell bent on killing you and your friends and their families. What would you do? This is the position Sawyer Grimes finds himself in at the start of Night of the Mannequins.
Sawyer Grimes is one of five bored teens who decide to pose a discarded store mannequin as though it’s a real patron in a movie theater in a suburb of Dallas, Tex. They all think it’s a funny prank—until Sawyer sees the mannequin walk out of the theater at the movie’s end. When one of the friends is killed, along with her entire family, in a freak accident shortly thereafter, Sawyer becomes convinced that the mannequin’s to blame. Believing “Manny” has morphed into a Frankenstein-style monster bent on offing its creators with no regard for who else gets hurt in the process, Sawyer decides that it’s his responsibility to kill his fellow pranksters before Manny can get to them, and thus lessen the collateral damage for their families. As the story unfolds the border between the supernatural and psychological blends. Sawyer's innocence unravels before us as he weighs his options and plans and justifies his kills, trying to stay one step ahead of Manny. is there a supernatural cause, a psychopath on the loose, or both? Did Sawyer Grimes really see the Mannequin walk out of the theater on that fateful night? Stephen Graham Jones never provides a clear answer. The reader is left to answer this question on their own.
Night of the Mannequins is a twisted, wild ride about the loss of innocence, the metamorphosis of the teenage psyche, and the pain of growing up. It is also a tender story about friendship and protecting others. You can tell Jones had a blast writing this novel, cared about his characters, and really enjoyed employing and messing with the tropes found within the horror genre. I'm eager to read more of his work and highly recommend this novella.
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor for the arc.
The moment I saw the author post about this book on social media I KNEW I had to have it. Something screamed 80's and 90's horror about it and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Boy, I wasn't disappointed! This book is CREEPY. It's THRILLING. It's everything I wanted and needed in a book during these times and I am so glad I read it! I recommend it 100%! I hope the author continues to write books like this because I'll be all over them!
I'm so excited to write this review! Why, you might ask? I've been on a roll lately, writing reviews for *almost* every book I've read or listened to the past few weeks, so what makes this review so different? Well, it's because this was ONE. HELL. OF. A. RIDE! This was such a mindf*ck (I did try to find a printfriendlier synonym but there's really no other word more suitable than mindf*ck), such a rollercoaster and I LOVED it!
I was like 76% inside Sawyer's head - I can't say that I, to one hundred percent, felt his feelings or heard his thoughts inside my own mind - that... would've worried even me, but, like, 76% is not to be looked down upon - Stephen Graham Jones is that good of an author!
My very first thought, or to be more precise: my first impression, upon picking up Night of the Mannequins was "wow, this basically reads itself", because it is extremely fluent, the way Jones begins his story. As I ventured further into this teenage prank gone wrong, oh so wrong, the change was at first so gradual that I only just noticed it, but the deeper I delved the more disturbing it got - and therein lies the absolute brilliant mindf*ck!
I can't gush about this in detail because that would be to spoil the story for any future reader, but gosh darnit do I want to gush about it!
Stephen Graham Jones has been a must-read author for a while now. I read THE ONLY GOOD INDIANS in February and was delighted in April to discover NIGHT OF THE MANNEQUINS (July Release). Wow--I'm left at a loss for words. I want to call this coming-of-age: certainly it's loss-of-innocence, moral integrity vs. pragmatic expediency, save the many vs. protect the few.... Underneath an amazingly self-analytical adolescent brain and attitude and self-deprecatory humor is an incredibly Kafkaesque metamorphosis of the Psyche, only in this case not into a cockroach, but into a pragmatic instrument-of-protection, of destroying in order to effect salvation. My mind shall be spinning on this one for quite a long time.
Night of the Mannequins is an inventive approach to the slasher genre. It pays homage in a genuine way while forging a wholly original way. Jones does a great job of throwing in slices of life that scatter around the razor sharp plot, giving it heft and a realness that makes the suspense more visceral. All in all this is a great novella and one that all fans of literary horror should pick up!
Night of the Mannequins is, at times, both heart-rending and pitch-black in its delivery. While nodding to slashers of the past, it is a breath of fresh air to the genre; even if that air is tainted with the taste of plastic and blood splatter. When it comes to Stephen Graham Jones, you can always expect the unexpected.
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