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.
Stephen Graham Jones is gathering notice and popularity, and this is a great thing. This year he has released one of the top five best novels of any genre this year. “The Only Good Indians” knocked everyone’s socks off, and this has probably been the reason why “Night of the Mannequins” has had a much bigger audience than anticipated. The problem for many of these readers is that “The Only Good Indians” and “Night of the Mannequins” are two completely different books. There were supposed to be some months between publications but with Covid-19 happening, the release of “Night of the Mannequins” was pushed back so that both books were released only a month and a half apart. A few who were coming off the high of “The Only Good Indians” expected more of the same, and this is not the same.
“Night of the Mannequins” is the story of Sawyer, who with a group of friends, sneak a mannequin into a movie theater to pull a prank. Little did Sawyer and the gang know that the mannequin is going to wake up and walk out of the theater. From them on, Sawyer is convinced that the mannequin is going to kill all of his friends and family. There was only one way to stop him. This novella turns into a slasher and actually kind of a sad story about teenagers and mental health. Stephen Graham Jones does not allude to the problems with what Sawyer is seeing and believing very often, but he does give some hints, and these small clues are enough to make the reader feel really bad for Sawyer and for the entire town. Sawyer feels like what he is doing is keeping the mannequin from killing anymore, and in his mind, he is the hero of the story, not the villain. This is not some sort of teenage delusion but a deep dive into a severe mental health crisis. SGJ does such a good job telling this story that you do not feel judgement against Sawyer, but you are hoping that he gets the help that he needs.
The action in “Night of the Mannequins” definitely makes this a slasher book, and the plot quickly moves along. This is not as in depth and shocking as “The Only Good Indians”, but this is definitely another great story that is worth reading from Stephen Graham Jones. He is one of the top horror writers currently working, and he should be widely read by any horror enthusiast.