Britney is less than thrilled that her cousin Ethan is coming to live with her family for a few months, probably because he is the most annoying person in the world. He shows up, carrying a wooden dummy with him, and her mom warns her to be nice to him. She assumes that he created an imaginary friend to help him deal with his parents' divorce, but we all know where this is going.
When she goes to hang out with her friend Molly, he mom makes her take Ethan with her. Molly's dad wants to create the Museum of Weird, which totally sounds like a place I would visit. He travels all around the world, looking for unique items, which he stores in the attic. He keeps saying that the dummy, which Ethan calls Mr. Badboy, looks familiar but he can't place it. He really wants to show them his newest acquisition: a wood doll called the Mind Stealer because it steals minds, natch.
Britney pretty much hates her cousin because she has to give up her room for him. When she takes down an autographed poster of her favorite band, he warns her that she might not want to do that since is Badboy's favorite band. She tries to ignore him, but he keeps making the dummy do stupid things. The dummy starts telling rude jokes at the dinner table, and she thinks it's hysterical.
She goes upstairs to talk to her cousin, and she sees the dummy look up and talk to her. She completely flips out and tries to tell her parents, but they think she's just tired. A few hours later, someone pushes her down the stairs and when she looks up, she sees Ethan and the dummy at the top of the stairs. She tries talking to her parents again and they still don't believe her.
Molly then calls her, freaking out about the Mind Stealer doll. Some random guy, who her dad hired to research the doll, discovered that it actually works. Since the only way to stop it is to bury it in a cemetery, she needs Britney's help. Brit gets distracted before she can follow through with the plans, though they do manage to dig a big ass hole. They later toss the doll in the hole and hope for the best.
Their school requires everyone to do volunteer work on the weekend, and Brit's parents make her take Ethan with her to the retirement home where she volunteers. She gives a painting lesson that everyone loves, and then Ethan goes on. The dummy goes crazy, making a bunch of rude jokes and being really mean to the residents. The dummy then throws a can of red paint on one woman, and they both get thrown out. She also discovers her poster ripped to shreds, and once again, her parents don't want to hear it.
Britney decides that she can't handle it anymore and calls Molly for help. She digs through the files that her dad keeps and finds a folder about dummies. Brit manages to find the magic words that will put the dummy to sleep. They sneak into his room, and Brit says the magic words. Molly gets closer to the dummy and discovers a remote control in its pocket. It turns out that Ethan programmed the dummy to say and do a bunch of things and that it was never really alive.
Later that night, Mr. Badboy appears in her bedroom and starts talking to her. He thanks her for saying the magic words that brought him to life, tells her that his name is Slappy, and then calls her his slave. After a few days of Slappy bossing her around, she snaps and drags him outside. She starts to throw him into the hole, but her parents interrupt her and lecture her about taking her poor cousin's imaginary friend. Brit apologizes, but then grabs the dummy and tosses it into the hole. As soon as it hits the Mind Stealer, there's a flash of light and the dummy goes limp. As she walks away from the hole feeling better, she hears Slappy talking to her from inside the other doll.
Part 2 takes place in HorrorLand. Britney gets a letter in the mail, saying that she won an all expenses paid vacation to HorrorLand for her and that she should bring her friend Molly. A weird looking man greets them and says that he is a Horror, one of the workers at the park. He promptly takes a flamethrower to their luggage and burns it to a crisp, though Brit believes it's just part of the act.
He herds them into a crazy looking taxi and takes them on a wild ride. At the end, he screams that they're about to hit something and dives out of the front seat, but the taxi really runs on a track and he's a paid actor. They wander through the park and come across another Horror, who warns them to get out and then tells them to find the other park before running away.
They head to the Scare Inn, the hotel at the park and check in. Brit’s parents wind up on the second floor and the girls get a room on the 13th floor. They find the closet filled with clothing in their size and a bunch of free chocolate bars in the room. Brit wants to check on her parents though, but they find the room empty. The front desk tells them that they checked out early, so they run back to check out the room.
All they find is her dad's new digital camera, and when she turns it on, she finds that the last picture he took shows Slappy sitting in that very room with a smile on his face.
*Remember when I posted about how Stine seems to hate parents? Yeah, well this one is one of the worst. Molly's dad literally flies off on the spur of the moment to all these random countries, and he leaves her all alone. She does have a housekeeper, but the book makes it seem like the woman doesn't live there.
*Britney's parents are pretty bad too. When she starts laughing at the dummy's jokes, her parents blame her and say she made a disturbance at the table.
*After they come home from the retirement home, her parents ground her. Their reasoning is that she probably knew what Ethan would do and she should have stopped him. Then, they reward Ethan by letting him use her ticket to a hockey game.
*It's so weird to see modern references in these books. Their hotel room has a plasma TV and someone mentions watching "Dancing with the Stars."
*I don't like the two-stories-in-one feature of the HorrorLand books. The second story is around 20 pages, and it ends on a cliffhanger. If you want to read the full story, you have to buy the entire series. I manage to pick these up for $1 or less at thrift stores and flea markets, but I definitely wouldn't have been happy paying $4 per book when they first came out.