Book Review: Goosebumps: Night Of The Living Dummy (1993)

If you were lucky enough to be a child of the nineties like me, then you will already be familiar with R.L. Stine’s classic children’s horror novel series, Goosebumps! The name alone just takes me back down nostalgia lane raising my own Goosebumps as I remember sitting under my covers at night, torch in hand, pretending to be asleep. Reading Night of the Living Dummy! Oh man, what great memories I have of reading the Goosebumps series. If it wasn’t for Stine’s children’s Horror series then I don’t think I would be as interested in horror as I am today. So I have decided after over two decades of existing, to re-read the Goosebumps series. Want to know what has kicked off my spooky nostalgia trip? Yep, it’s Night of the Living Dummy!

As a young teenager this book literally terrified me. Even as an adult it still gets me! If you want to scare me just leave me alone in the room with a ventriloquist doll or some kind of mannequin and you will soon see me scaling walls and digging at concrete till my fingers bleed. I blame my fear of dummies on this terrifying tale. For me, Slappy and his insidious witty humor twisted at my gut ropes more than any other Goosebumps monster.

The Night of the Living Dummy series has got to be my favorite out of the entire selection of creepy stories although I love them all. I don’t know what spurred me into this devilish desire to re-read the classics but I’m excited to do it as it’s been so long and I can approach the series with a pair of fresh eyes. Being a child the last time I read these books there are probably going to be a lot more things that I understand these days, hidden behind foggy memory and nostalgia. Although Stine’s books and writing style was always easy to get into, even as an adult.

As I turned the last page of Night of the Living Dummy a strange sense of anxiety washed over me. I honestly forgot how unnerving Stine’s imagination was. Mr Wood who of course was the main villain in the Dummy book 1 was bloody terrifying. The sense of dread, desperation, and anxiety that the main characters, twins Lindy and Kris feel throughout the story is palpable and very well executed. Stine captures everything perfectly from the disbelieving parents down to the skeptical friends and antagonizing, the jealous sibling who has to do everything the sibling does in order to remain relevant. But one scene in particular really opened up to how adult Night of the Living Dummy was. If you have read this book then you may know what I’m about to say. If not spoiler alert.

Barky the dog being strangled by Mr Wood!

Creepy doesn’t even cut it. Pure malevolent does. Now I must clarify something. I was at least ten years old when i got my hands on Goosebumps. I’m now 27 and even to this day that scene literally upsets me to the point of feeling nauseous. My mouth dropped open when I read what Mr Wood was doing to poor Barky! It’s horrifying! But that what makes it such a good story!

The entirety of Night of the Living Dummy is an action-packed thrill ride through the uncanny valley with enough scares and horror to spook your mind even after you have left your young adulthood. if you enjoyed this review then stay tuned for more reviews to come! and just as always with the Goosebumps books, Slappy will return!