Review first appeared online July 2018 – now republished here
Title: Scream All Night
Author: Derek Milman
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/HarperTeen
Genre: Young adult/teen fiction, Contemporary
Book format: Digital copy
Description: 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?
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: I really enjoyed reading this! ‘Scream All Night’ is a brilliantly dark contemporary comedy with a deeper story than first appears. Dario Heyward, seventeen, lives in a children’s home, emancipated from his family when he was younger. When his brother calls him and asks him to come home to attend an important event at the family’s movie studio/castle, Dario finds himself lured back to the home he never wanted to return to. He vows to stay only one day, but Moldavia Studios has a way of keeping people stuck there, along with all the secrets of their past.
This is such a brilliant novel and very different from any I’ve read before. Although it’s a YA contemporary, it has a lot of comedy too. From the initial blurb I was expecting something hilarious and I wasn’t disappointed, with some of the silly stuff that happens. However the book is also serious, with darker more complex subjects.
The book begins with Dario at the home where he’s grown up since being emancipated. The reasons for his emancipation aren’t clear from the start but we’re soon given a deep insight as he heads for Moldavia Studios to attend the funeral of his father, who isn’t quite dead yet. I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the book when I began reading, it took me a few pages to really start to enjoy it, but after that I was hooked and a lot of it has to do with just how funny and silly things became.
As Dario ends up inheriting the movie studio, he moves back to his former home and takes his best friend from the home with him, Jude. It’s at this point that I really began to enjoy the book and one particular character had a lot to do with it. Despite the dislike between the two of them, I loved Dario’s brother, Oren. He’s eccentric, flamboyant and just very silly in his over-the-top mannerisms and a lot of the ridiculousness and humour comes from a his passion for a certain cauliflower feature. I don’t want to give away details as it would spoil the enjoyment of reading it for yourself, but I couldn’t help laughing out loud several times while reading this book and most of it was due to the silly antics of Oren and his vision.
Although the book has a lot of humour there’s also a darker story that really gives the book its depth. Dario’s reason for emancipation becomes clear as we learn about his experience as a child in Moldavia Studios. There’s some dark descriptions of abuse, and more surrounding mental health and the tale takes on a very different feel as Dario faces the past he’s tried to avoid thinking about all these years.
The entire book is split into three parts and I enjoyed how it ended. There’s a really satisfying coming-of-age feel to this contemporary, and Dario’s story ends well. But there’s something more I felt with this book and it’s how the main character deals with all the things he’s gone through. Some of his thoughts towards the end are very deep. He concludes some ideas on growing up and life and I felt like they were deep messages that many would benefit from thinking about.
There is use of the s and f swear words as well as some disturbing descriptions of abuse. There’s also some drug use but it’s not dark drug use and is part of something silly that happens to one character and wouldn’t cause offense to most people. It makes sense if you read the book (it actually is quite funny given what happens to the character). Some young teens might find some of the darker descriptions hard to deal with but mid to older teens as well as adults will enjoy this book.
I really enjoyed reading ‘Scream All Night’. It’s definitely different from your average contemporary novel with the B- horror movie studio setting leading to so much humour and the deep subjects this book goes into. I can’t wait to read more work from this author and I’m looking foward to his next book already.
Would you like to read this book? Have you ever watched or enjoyed horror B-movies? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂