Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
R.L. Stine’s GOOSEBUMPS is a series of stand-alone short horror novels for children. I’ve been listening to the audiobook versions with my teenage daughter who loves to read scary stories in the couple of months before Halloween.
The seventh GOOSEBUMPS novel, Night of the Living Dummy (1993), is especially terrifying, but that may be because I’m one of those people who gets a bit freaked out by circus clowns, Chucky dolls, and, in this case, ventriloquists’ dummies. I’m not sure if it’s the Uncanny Valley effect or some repressed traumatic memory from my childhood but, whatever, I don’t like them.
12-year-old twin sisters Kris and Lindy are always competing with each other. When Lindy finds a ventriloquist’s dummy and starts earning money by performing at parties, Kris insists on having a dummy, too. That’s when strange and sinister things begin to happen around the house. Is it one of the girls playing nasty tricks on her sister, or is it one or both of the dummies with an evil agenda? It’s not clear to the girls, their parents, or the readers.
Night of the Living Dummy is exciting, very scary, and contains a few scenes that are unforgettable. Kids who love creepy stories will probably be delighted with this one.
Unfortunately, the two sisters are quite annoying in the way they interact and are constantly jealous of each other. Carol Schneider, the reader of the audiobook version by Scholastic Audio, seems to emphasize this problem, sometimes using irritating voices for the girls. While we thought this was one of the scariest GOOSEBUMPS stories we’ve read, we didn’t love the audio format for this one, though we’re not sure if that’s the fault of the author or the narrator.