Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians) packs bloody surprises and dark laughter into every page of Night of the Mannequins. Sawyer, the narrator, begins, "So Shanna got a new job at the movie theater, we thought we'd play a fun prank on her, and now most of us are dead, and I'm really starting to feel kind of guilty about it all." And from his captivating perspective, readers are launched into this brief but action-packed work of comedic horror. The prank in question goes awry and suddenly, there's a monster on the loose, or perhaps a psychopath. Or could it be both? New twists come with every chapter, and readers will delight more than once in the realization that they might be reading a different story from the one they thought was unfolding.
Sawyer makes for the most honest of unreliable narrators; his point of view is unvarnished, so far as it reflects his understanding. The accuracy of that understanding, however, and his judgment based upon it, is up for debate to say the least. Combine the horrors from the prank that lead to most of the group in question being dead with an undercurrent of anxiety about leaving childhood behind for adolescence (and the specter of college in the future--if one can survive that long) and the resulting voice is wry and engaging to the end. This book will take readers unexpected places; all one can do is trust Jones and enjoy the ride. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library