By: Heather Graham

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Although Andrew's wife, Alexi, says she's a lightweight when it comes to spooky stuff, he knows she can enjoy being scared, so he books what he hopes will be a fun weekend getaway for them and their friends, Keith and Janet, at a purportedly haunted B & B. The house is populated by a bunch of creepy old mannequins, and as they're getting settled in, Alexi believes she sees one moving. Then after consulting with a medium, they're visited by the spirits of the house's former inhabitants, known ax murderers who cause a little mayhem. Will everyone get out alive?


"Mannequin" is a stand-alone short story, although at thirty pages, it's among the slightly meatier tales in this anthology. It's about two married couples, Andrew and Alexi and Keith and Janet who, for the most part, enjoy scary things. Andrew books a weekend stay for them at a Bed & Breakfast Inn that's purported to be haunted, the former owner having murdered several guests before his own wife murdered him. They also hire a medium to enhance the ambiance and discover that one of them is sensitive to the supernatural world. After the medium leaves, they're visited by the spirits of the former inhabitants of the house, leading to a bit of mayhem.

I'm not usually a fan of spooky ghost stories, especially ones connected to old, slasher, murder mysteries, but this one was pretty good. It creeped me out a little, without being too scary, and the tales of the previous residents were sanguine without being overly gory. "Mannequin" kept me entertained, while the ending was rather humorous, so everything hit that just right place for me to actually enjoy it. Given the prolific nature of Heather Graham and the fact that she's written quite a number of romances, it's a little odd that I would start with one of her horror shorts, especially when I didn't even realize she wrote horror, but it just worked out that way. However, it was certainly good enough for me to want to check out more of her work when I get a chance. "Mannequin" can be found in the anthology Blood Lite III: Aftertaste.


Heather Graham