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Night of the Puppet People is the eighth book in the Goosebumps Most Wanted series. It was published in 2015.

The cover art depicts both male and female puppets who appear to be children, and who both have sharp teeth.

Blurb

Ben and Jenny Renfro are terrified of puppets and they don't know why. It's just been a fear that the twins have shared for as long as they can remember. Yes, they are creeped out by all kinds of puppets, but especially marionettes. Something about all of those wires is extra scary.

The twins are determined to defeat their class rivals by winning their school's talent contest. And that means doing whatever it takes. Even if they have to surround themselves by the thing they hate most--puppets! But there is more to these guys than just string and glue. Something evil is hanging around. Will Ben and Jenny be able to take control?

Plot

Prologue

Twins Ben and Jenny Renfro are celebrating their fifth birthday and their mother is throwing them a party. She invited a puppeteer named Wizzbang the Wizard to perform for them. Wizzbang pulls out a sultan puppet and brings it close to Ben, when suddenly the puppet bites Ben's ear. After getting the puppet off Ben, Wizzbang brings up Jenny to perform with a princess dummy. Suddenly, the puppet's arm shoots up and punches Jenny in the nose. The kids begin to panic while Wizzbang runs off.

Seven Years Later

Ben and Jenny, now twelve years old, constantly deal with a pair of mean girls named Maria Salinas and Anna Richards. Anna and Maria intend to enter the school's variety show, which the winner will win five hundred dollars. They plan to perform a puppet act with marionettes, which bothers Ben and Jenny, though they can't recall why. Not wanting to have Anna and Maria gloat, Ben and Jenny enter the show as well, but without any act. They head to their friend Jonathan Sparrow's house. Because of his bird-like features and last name, he is given the nickname Bird. The three try to think of an act, but to no avail. Suddenly Bird's dad Mr. Sparrow, who is also the school soccer coach, returns home early due to a storm forcing him to cancel soccer practice.

Bird then thinks that maybe his dad would have something in the attic that they could use. The three head up to the attic and eventually find a cabinet. Inside are three puppets, a sultan, a princess and a knight. Ben and Jenny are still afraid to use the puppets, but when Bird tells them that they could beat Anna and Maria, they get over their fears and decide to take the puppets to school without Mr. Sparrow knowing. Due to the storm, Ben and Jenny sleep over at Bird's. That night, Ben thinks he hears something moving and thinks it might be the puppets. But when the three go to check, they only find a squirrel.

The next day, Ben, Jenny and Bird audition for the variety show with the puppets, much to the anger of Anna and Maria who think that they're intentionally trying to copy them. Not long after auditioning, the three get confronted by Anna and Maria who yell at them, claiming they cut the strings of their puppets. Ben then sees a pair of scissors in the sultan's hands. The principal Ms. Feeny, believes that the three couldn't have sabotaged Anna and Maria and lets them off. However, when they go to the art room to collect the puppets, they see the words PUPPETS RULE written on the walls, with markers in the hands of their puppets. They try to wipe off the marker, but get caught by Ms. Feeny who suspends them for a week and kicks them off the variety show.

One week later, Ben, Jenny and Bird learn that it was all Anna and Maria's doing. They sabotaged the three of them so they would get in trouble. And if the three try to tell on them, no one will believe them. Wanting to get revenge on Anna and Maria, the three come up with a plan to sabotage their act, by running on stage and performing during Anna and Maria's performance. They get the puppets again and try to perform with them. Suddenly, Ben trips as the Sultan puppet lands on top of him. The puppet opens its mouth and makes a strange buzzing sound in Ben's ear. Ben begins to feel strange.

Mr. Sparrow arrives and panics when he sees the puppets. He finally tells the kids the truth. Seven years ago, he had dreams of being an entertainer. He bought the puppets from a puppeteer and rushed to their birthday party to perform as Wizzbang the Wizard. However, when he performed with the puppets, they acted as if they had a mind of their own and injured the kids. He hid the puppets away in his attic, to ensure they never fell into the wrong hands. Ben and Jenny also begin to remember that day as well.

The next morning, Ben wakes up with his entire body feeling stiff. He makes it to the breakfast table, but his face and hands start to turn into wood. With Ben believing it to be the work of the puppets, Jenny brings Ben to Bird's house, in hopes of finding anything that could help. They find a card in the sultan's robe belonging to an Eduardo Caleb, the puppeteer. The three take a bus to his address, while silver rings grow in Ben's limbs. They arrive to the right address, but the building is condemned. Ben believes he's doomed, until they see someone enter through the back. They follow and enter the building.

They are greeted by Eduardo, who informs Ben that he's been infected by puppet cells. He tells the kids that the three puppets were a trio of failed experiments that he had hoped wouldn't spread their evil pupet cells. He then offers to reverse the process. As the kids are led into a room, Ben sees the puppets shaking their heads. Ben is placed under a strange green dome which almost suffocates him. However, when the process finishes, he's back to normal. He's about to leave, when Eduardo tells him that he only sucked the bad puppet cells out, and that he still intends to turn him into a puppet. Suddenly the three puppets come to life and attack Eduardo while Ben, Jenny and Bird make a run for it.

The variety show arrives and Ben, Jenny and Bird intend to jeer the other performers, namely Anna and Maria. Suddenly, two performers in ski masks perform on stage with two puppets that look like Anna and Maria. The three realize that Anna and Maria must have followed them to Eduardo Caleb's and ended up transformed into puppets. The performance is a hit with the crowd, as Ben, Jenny and Bird are amazed that Anna and Maria managed to beat them once again.

International releases

Trivia

  • The cover depicts the Puppet People as two puppets (a boy and a girl). However, in the book, there are actually three puppets: The Sultan, The Princess, and The Knight. It is possible that they are meant to represent Ben and Jenny, but only Ben transforms into a puppet in the book.
  • The original plot description is different, as that version has the puppeteer at Ben and Jenny's birthday being evil and a different friend named Jesse wanting to do a video of a puppet show for YouTube. Jesse was replaced by Jonathan "Bird" Sparrow and the plot was changed to a school variety show.
  • The "Contents" section of Trick or Trap mistakenly lists this book as the fourth entry in the Goosebumps Most Wanted: Special Edition sub-series. While most likely an error, this could mean that the book may have been originally planned as a special edition. It would explain why the book uses the same format as the Most Wanted: Special Edition books in that the story is split into multiple parts.
  • The Puppet People are different from evil ventriloquist dummies such as Slappy the Dummy or Mr. Wood. The Puppet People don't need magic words to come to life and they can turn people into puppets.
    • Regardless, the book still shares similar elements with the Living Dummy books. Throughout the story, much like many Dummy books, we see another character trick the protagonist by causing mischief and pretending it was the work of the puppets. Also similar to most of the Dummy books, it isn't until three quarters into the book that the puppets come to life.
  • This book references Frozen, Elton John, Snickers, M&M's, Sesame Street, Oreo, Coca-Cola and Disney Channel.
  • Jonathan Sparrow is nicknamed "Bird". This is also the nickname of Doug Arthur in Say Cheese and Die!
  • The title is a likely reference to the 1958 horror film Attack of the Puppet People.
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