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?
**** Thank you to Balzer + Bray for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****
Trigger Warnings: Homophobic Jokes, Parental Abuse, Miscarriage, & Drug Use
This was a wonderfully strange book and I’ve never read anything like it! I love horror movies and as a horror lover this book was a lot of fun as it revolves around a B horror movie studio. However, it’s hard to say what genre this book falls into since it’s a little bit of everything but mostly I’d say it’s dark comedy with a lot of dysfunctional family thrown in. This book isn’t going to be for everyone though due to it’s strange storytelling but it is a very unique story and I personally zipped right through it!
As soon as I started this book I was hooked, although I was immediately turned off by the homophobic jokes between some of the male characters, however, this was not persistent throughout the rest of the book. The pacing was pretty fast though and there were never any dull moments, the writing was very addictive too!
The story itself is a bit odd but that’s part of why I enjoyed it so much, it’s about a boy (Dario) who returns home for his father’s “live” funeral and ends up in charge of saving their B horror movie studio because of his father’s will. Dario is estranged from his family and was legally emancipated in order to escape their castle estate/horror movie studio and they essentially lure him back in. I personally really loved the movie making aspects of the book it was so much fun and honestly can I have more books like that? However, the true focus on the book was more on the family dynamics. Dario was abused by his father, his brother never stood up for or protected him, and his mother was very mentally ill and institutionalized. Not to mention everyone who works on the films lives on the estate, they’re like one big family. It was actually really interesting to see how Dario grappled with his grief and abusive experiences as a child and really grew and developed throughout the story eventually coming into his own. Also on top of all that he has to figure out how to save the studio!
“One day you’ll look back on your time here, and all of us, and you won’t feel the pain you do now.”
As I briefly mentioned “Scream All Night” if very different and has a strange sort of writing and storytelling method to it. It won’t be for every reader but I think if you’re looking for a unique reading experience and love horror movies then I would check this book out!
The setting was easily my favorite part of this book as well, I mean it’s a castle estate that’s sole purpose is producing horror movies! Everyone that works on the movies lives within the castle and the castles many wings are used for various departments such as makeup, costumes, props, etc. I just thought it was super interesting and definitely a 10/10 for the setting from me.
Overall this is a hard plot/story to discuss because it’s so different! There weren’t really any plot twists or tons of action to speak of yet Dario’s plight drove the story forward enough to keep me completely enthralled. Nothing felt too convenient or abrupt either and I thought it ended in a good place with everything tied up nicely.
I would say that “Scream All Night” is more character driven and the author did a great job with Dario, the MC. As I already mentioned we got to see quite the exploration of how Dario dealt with his grief and past abuse and overcame it to become his own person and not let it define him.
I wasn’t blown away by the secondary characters or anything but they were still pretty good. There was Dario’s older brother, Oren, and his best friend Jude, and his other best friend/love interest Hayley. Oren is a very zany, eccentric character and while he did have some issues especially with Dario as he feels bad he never protected him, I did like him eventually, he could be very funny. Jude and Hayley were a little less involved but I loved how supportive of Dario they were it was a great, positive friendship. There was also this younger kid that worked as an intern named Gavin, he was the most precious thing! Plus there were a few other characters that made up the movie studio family that I enjoyed as well, though we didn’t see much of them.
The romance never really overshadowed the plot, which I liked, but it was present. Dario has a pretty casual relationship with Hayley but my problem with it is that it felt like it was trying to be serious but never got there. I liked the two of them together but at the same time it was just sort of “meh”. There was also a very odd relationship that Jude developed with a much older actress at the studio. Overall I say I’m pretty in the middle about the romance, I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it either.
What I Loved:
- The horror movie studio/ castle estate setting
- Horror movie references!
- Fast pacing
- Enjoyable writing
- Unique story
- Great character development
- Interesting, zany secondary characters
- Romance didn’t overshadow the plot
What I Didn’t Love:
- Homophobic jokes at the start of the story
- Romance could have used more development
- Secondary characters could have used a little more complexity
Overall I thought this was a really fun, unique book especially being a horror fan! I was surprised by the family dynamics and relationships as well though, it added a whole new level of story to the book. I definitely recommend checking this book out, though, as I said it won’t be for every reader as it’s a very odd book but I really enjoyed it myself!