Enter Manny, the mannequin the group of five teens finds in a creek. Manny is their new best friend, a mannequin to pull pranks with — until he isn’t.

What a strange, strange, strange ride of kills and thrills. I am continuously impressed with Stephen Graham Jones’ ability to create a tale so bizarre, yet so believable.

Stephen Graham Jones

Plot Summary

A group of five teenagers decide to get Manny out of the garage where he’s been stored after finding him years before. One last prank using Manny — what’s the harm? Shanna works at the local movie theater. The other four sneak Manny into the theater in pieces and reassemble him in his seat, dressing him in our narrator’s dad’s clothing. Sawyer, our narrator, relays watching Shanna and her boss come in to check everyone’s tickets after being alerted to some foul play in ticket purchases.

Shanna and her boss nod at Manny in his seat. Strange. Sawyer expected them to be shocked. It is in turn Sawyer and the rest of the group who is shocked when Manny stands up and walks out.

What began as a prank turns sinister. Is something supernatural at play here, or something much bigger?

The Verdict

The novel starts out very campy, B-rated horror movie-ish, but quickly turns bone chilling when members of the group begin to die. Sawyer is convinced Manny is to blame. As the story escalates and things are revealed, shivers will run down your spine. The tone of this novel morphes from lighthearted to deeply disturbing, very quickly. The unreliability of our narrator keeps us questioning what we know to be fact, and we race to the end of the novella to find answers.

The novel gets better as you keep turning the pages. This novella explores the darkness that lives in each of us and makes us question what we can be pushed to do when our warped brains convince us it is what must be done.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)