Did you enjoy the little Rocky Horror Picture Show reference in the title there? I couldn’t help myself. It’s so perfect – the film or the pun? Both! Anyway, on to the post.
I was recently sent two short horror stories from Tor – massive thanks to Tor! – and naturally, my dark little heart tore through them! One, Night of the Mannequins promised B-Movie cheese and Out Of Body gave of spooky vibes à la the film Insidious.
But did they deliver? Let’s find out!
Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones
This was the first of the two books that I read, so it makes sense to review it first!
This is a fun, short and snappy little novella that its perfect for fans of B-movies! I ended up giving it a 3.8 out of 5!
Night of the Mannequins is a story all about a group of teens who use a mannequin in a prank for one of their friends and Sawyer, our MC, is fairly sure he sees the mannequin get up by itself and walk away.
What follows is a death chain of each of the friends of the group one by one and Sawyer is so certain that it’s Manny, the mannequin. So he decides to take things into his own hands. If you’re not quite sure how that would work then check out the opening sentence to ‘Night of the Mannequins‘:
“So Shanna got a new job at the movie theatre, 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.”
I mean…what?! That’s an amazing opening line!
There’s not much gore in the book, but when there is it’s detailed (which I love!) and I honestly didn’t understand the title of the book – the plural – until the very end, but when it hits its hits hard!
I really enjoyed this short lil novella! We didn’t get much of an insight into many of the other characters – there just wasn’t time, but the connection between them and the protagonist is undeniable.
I have to admit that I knocked a star and a bit off for the writing. Not the descriptions or anything, as I said, the gore is great. It’s the voice of the narrator. Yes, he’s unreliable, but it’s how conversational he is. I didn’t like it and I didn’t believe it – people just don’t speak like that.
So that became a little bit irritating after a while – but it’s easy enough to ignore for such a fun, silly and spooky lil novella!
Out Of Body by Jeffrey Ford
Next up for review is Out of Body – the decidedly more mature of the two titles here.
Argh! I wanted this to be 5 stars so badly cos that concept is *chefs kiss*. However, I ended up giving this 3.8 as well. This could have been 5 stars if it was longer – I really think this is one of those books that could have benefited from being longer. Much longer.
The premise really is great! Owen, our MC, has sleep paralysis and finds out he can cross into the astral plane where there is a great opportunity for spying on the neighbours as well as some very real dangers. This includes a cloud of mysterious fog that can erase you from existence in the sleep world and the waking one. There are also soulless creatures that can turn you into one of them, and there’s also a vampiric menace who is worse than them all who also has very real ties into the waking world. Oh, there’s also a monster-hunting club.
Sounds like a lot for a 163 page book right? Well, that’s because it is. It really is. Just as a concept is introduced, it barely has time to be shown to us once before something else is presented to us.
The thing is, nothing was ever too much for the concept of the book – just the page length. I really would have loved to read this book at 300 or so pages. I also reckon it’d make a pretty good film!
All in all, I enjoyed the characters that we got, and I really liked the premise and the atmosphere of the book. The reason I dropped some stars is because it all felt incredibly rushed for the page count and I tried to look past it but just couldn’t. If this is the page length, then I have to judge it based on that. Therefore, instead of added elements causing layers to the story, everything felt rushed and – at times – a little hokey.
But damn if I didn’t enjoy this creepy story for the most part! More of this please!
One of these books is obviously more adult orientated – Night of the Mannequins. I’m joking, of course, it’s Out of Body. And that’s a good thing – it’s nice to mix up your reading tastes every now and then.
Did I find either one of them scary? No, not really. The premise of Out of Body was certainly unsettling at times, and Night of the Mannequins had a pretty horrific aspect of real-life unhinged behaviour. But ultimately, I never felt my heart get faster, I was never nervous to turn the pages and I never felt scared. However, I’m also relatively difficult to scare, even with films. Not trying to brag – can’t brag if it’s the truth! Lol!
However, apart from the flaws discussed earlier, both of these books are solid additions to any horror fan’s reading list, especially for something short, sharp and snappy!
I look forward to seeing what else Tor has coming up for horror fans!
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