Scream All Nightby Derek Milman
Published on July 24, 2018
by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eARC
Source: Borrowed, Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
A darkly hilarious contemporary realistic young adult novel about growing up and finding your place in the world, perfect for fans of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Running With Scissors.
Dario Heyward knows one thing: He’s never going back to Moldavia Studios, the iconic castle that served as the set, studio, and home to the cast and crew of dozens of cult classic B-horror movies. It’s been three years since Dario’s even seen the place, after getting legally emancipated from his father, the infamous director of Moldavia’s creature features.
But then Dario’s brother invites him home to a mysterious ceremony involving his father and a tribute to his first film—The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue. Dario swears his homecoming will be a one-time visit. A way for him to get closure on his past—and reunite with Hayley, his first love and costar of Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, a production fraught with real-life tragedy—and say good-bye for good. But the unthinkable happens—Dario gets sucked back into the twisted world of Moldavia and the horrors, both real and imagined, he’s left there.
With only months to rescue the sinking studio and everyone who has built their lives there, Dario must confront the demons of his past—and the uncertainties of his future. But can he escape the place that’s haunted him his whole life?
I received this book for free from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When I received the email opportunity to review Scream All Night, I read the book description and thought: YES. I’ve always loved movies; I majored in film and TV production in school, so this brought back so many memories. But it’s also a moving look at family and a boy who is healing from trauma.
Dario is a sympathetic, engaging narrator. Raised on the infamous Moldavia Studios grounds, which looks like a castle, he paints a world both beautiful yet frightening. Moldavia Studios is a world builder lover’s dream: full of Gothic halls and sprawling grounds, with people who are strange yet compelling. As a filmmaker, Dario’s father had some big ideas (Dial W For Witchcraft or The Goblins That Only Ate Cake, anyone?); as a father and husband, he was abusive. Dario navigates this dual world as best he can, until he realizes he needs to get out.
He has a supportive bromance with his roommate Jude, who later accompanies him back to Moldavia. His friendship/romance with Haley, whose parents had their own troubled relationship with Dario’s father, is rekindled. When he takes over as head of the studio, his memories of the past emerge. His path is not easy, but it is promising. I appreciated that.
The book is unlike anything I’ve read in YA. It’s realistic fiction with a surreal feel. It’s funny and bittersweet and sometimes very hard to read. There are parts that made me grimace and parts that had me laughing out loud, and I haven’t laughed out loud while reading in a long time. Dario’s older brother Oren is the source of most of these laughs–he’s aggravating, insulting, I wanted to punch him a hundred times, but his script for a movie he thinks will save the studio had me howling. Someone, please make his script into a movie! Actually, make any of the films mentioned in the book into a movie.
Some things I felt could have improved. Dario and Haley’s romance could have been stronger. Because most of his feelings are based on how he felt about her when they were younger, and if he hadn’t described her as a manic pixie dream girl, I would have been on board. A few of the jokes did not land for me (Oren’s doing), but that’s my personal taste.
On the whole, Scream All Night struck a chord. It’s richly detailed, well-written realistic fiction that stands out.
CW: physical and emotional abuse