Book Review – Night of the Living Dummy [Sponsored]
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps introduced a generation of young people to reading and the horror genre. Over 100 different Goosebumps books were released, collected in different series like Give Yourself Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2000. The books sold over 350 million copies worldwide and a television series was made. The frightful tales terrified young audiences, but always left them wanting more. One of the most popular entries of the series was Night of the Living Dummy; the first of many books featuring demonic ventriloquist dummies.
The two main characters of Night of the Living Dummy are two competitive sisters, Lindy and Kris Powell. One day Lindy finds a ventriloquist dummy in a dumpster behind the family house, and she decides to keep and name the dummy Slappy. Lindy begins to perform ventriloquist routines with Slappy for her friends and the other neighbourhood children, and it is not long before her sister becomes jealous. Kris makes her father buy her her own dummy, which she calls Mr. Wood. However, it is not long before the new dummy begins acting strangely, and the two sisters are worried that they this new doll might be possessed and even alive.
As with all the Goosebumps books, Night of the Living Dummy features two competitive main characters, and many readers will enjoy the friendly sibling rivalry. Young readers will empathise with the two sisters as they plead to their clueless parents. The parents refuse to believe the sister’s tales about the demonic dummy, even grounding them as punishment for telling lies. It helps make the book (and other similar Goosebumps tales) feel grounded for younger readers, as they feel like they could be the characters in the story.
R.L. Stine’s trademark writing has always featured humour mixed with horror and Night of the Living Dummy is no exception. Mr. Wood’s outbursts always involve some colourful insults, and there is one particular scene featuring excesses of green vomit that will leave readers laughing with shock. However, as Mr. Wood’s behaviour gets increasingly worse and Kris and Lindy realise that they must deal with him themselves, readers will experience the tension of the two characters as the renegade dummy turns evil.
An engaging story with plenty of twists, jokes and memorable scenes, it is no surprise that Night of the Living Dummy is one of the most fondly remembered Goosebumps books. The 7th book in the original series, R.L. Stine went on to use evil ventriloquist dummies in future stories to great success, but Mr. Wood was the original demonic dummy.