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?
I’m starting to think that maybe Stephen Graham Jones might just not be for me. The books always sound amazing but I always end up slightly disappointed because it wasn’t what I was expecting. Which is a shame because when I say the books always sound great, they really do but then I’m left kind of going “what was that?”. I thought this was going to be a supernatural horror story with a creepy mannequin but I will tell you right now it’s more psychological horror than anything, which was again, not what I thought it was going to be. Which is why I think I feel underwhelmed with it. This is definitely a case of “it’s me, not you” again with this author’s books so take this review with a grain of salt.
The plot mostly revolves around a prank gone wrong with a group of teens and it involves, you guessed it, a mannequin. There’s a reason the synopsis for the book is so short and that’s because it’s pretty easy to spoil the story, which I don’t want to do so I’m not going to explain what exactly the story is about any further than that. Like I already mentioned it’s more psychological horror so take that as you will. This was unfortunate for me personally because I was expecting something scary and this novella isn’t really scary at all. However, it does give off that campy 80’s slasher horror movie vibe which made it fun.
I also thought the story was confusing and the ending especially confused me, it sort of felt like reading through someone’s fever dream. It was bizarre. Sawyer is the main character and whose POV we read the story through and I did find it to be pretty funny in a dark/morbid way, he had a very dry/sarcastic sense of humor. But like I said overall it just felt really off. The writing doesn’t vibe with me, something is just strange about it and it made my overall reading experience subpar. This is 100% me and not the author or book, it’s just a little odd. The pacing is pretty moderate, this novella is only 136 pages so it’s a fairly quick read but I did feel like it dragged a bit just because I personally wasn’t very invested in the story.
What I Loved:
- The 80’s horror vibe
- It’s a quick read, short novella
- Sawyer’s twisted POV and dark humor
What I Didn’t Love:
- The writing style
- Overall horror elements, not what I was expecting
- Story felt bizarre and at times confusing
So this is a shorter review than I usually do but that’s because it’s a fairly short book and I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who would like to give it a read. Overall I can’t really say if I’d recommend this or not because it personally was NOT for me and wasn’t what I thought it would be. I’m giving it three stars because I know in my heart of hearts it’s a decent book but not my cup of tea otherwise I’d probably be sitting around two stars. I’d say if you’re already a fan of Stephen Graham Jones and you do enjoy his writing, go for it you’ll probably have a good time.
Trigger Warnings: Death, Violence, Gore
**** Huge thank you to Tor for providing me with a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ****