Dummy by David-Matthew Barnes – Book Review


Take a ride with Talbot in this new horror story

Award-winning author and poet David-Matthew Barnes lets us sit in the backseat of his latest novel, Dummy. Barnes is a prolific writer, penning novels of various genres, including Swimming to Chicago (2011) and Mesmerized (2010), three collections of poetry and more than seventy stage plays.

Released in October 2023 is Dummy, a horror short story that follows Beverly Crisp, an elderly woman who is outcasted from her community in the small town of Hazel Heights. Afraid to drive alone at night, Crisp often drives with a life-size mannequin she calls Talbot in her passenger seat. After joining the local theatre group to become more part of her community, she meets Jenny Dressel, a young woman working at the local gas station. Finally, Beverly believes she’s finally made a new friend. However, things start to get complicated when an antagonistic member of the theatre group decides to teach Beverly a lesson. Soon, Jenny and Beverly become more intertwined in a way that they never thought possible. Both keeping secrets and both are more alike than they previously thought.

This novel was fun to read if you are looking for something that has the feel of a Tubi movie. That’s not a negative, there are some great Tubi movies out there, especially when it comes to the horror genre. The book just feels like that type of movie. The plot was a nice ride from start to finish. The writing and pacing were pretty good, and it doesn’t really stop, but keeps going once the plot kicks in.

The characters were pretty wild, and they matched the speed and pacing of the plot. You feel for Beverly and the life she is going through, even when you discover a few things about her throughout the book, you feel sorry for her. It feels weird feeling sorry for her though, especially when something happens, and you just watch her go through the motions in the aftermath. She takes a hard left turn towards the end.

Jenny was also an enjoyable character and also someone who was not entirely sympathetic. She shows some emotions especially when her story intertwines with Beverly later. It was just wild watching the two of them.  The other characters were just there to be a body count, which isn’t a bad thing in a horror short story. The most interesting character was Talbot, which, let’s be honest, is the reason to read this novel. The story surrounding Talbot was interesting and would be great if we learned more about him and why things worked the way they did. But for what we got, it was still the most interesting part of the story.

The ending was kind of weird and a little anticlimactic. We don’t really get closure on what is happening, and why certain things have happened. Nevertheless, it was a smooth ride from start to finish, with a few hiccups.  

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  • Verdict - 6.5/10

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