Debut Tuesday Spotlight Review #2

It’s that time of the week again! I hope you’ve all had a productive week, read some good books, drank some good coffee, had a laugh or two. And speaking of laughs, it’s time to present Debut Tuesday Spotlight Review #2, which definitely made me LOL a few times. (Do people still say LOL, or is that reserved for old folks like me that are trying too hard to sound cool?)


Derek Milman



Genre: Contemporary / Dark Humor

Release Date: July 24th, 2018

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Trigger Warnings: child abuse, mental illness, suicide

Summary (courtesy of 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 Early 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?


“This is a house full of misfits, everyone unmoored from the world outside these gates. They don’t belong out there. They live in a constantly moving dream world of imagined horrors, spurts of gore, skulking monsters–creatures more aberrant than themselves. After all, it takes true misfits to make believable monsters.” (pg. 83)

This book felt like a dream, or maybe a nightmare. You pick.

It was the summary that captivated me. A YA novel where the main character is left in charge of his family’s horror film studio after the death of his father? Sign me up. I could tell from the summary alone that this book would be quirky. But then I saw the cover and was even more excited.

I ran to my local B&N on release day and then rushed home to start it. I cracked it open, read the first line, and honestly almost put it down. I’d somehow skimmed over the “darkly hilarious” part of the summary. The first line was a homophobic joke, which put me in the precarious position of having to decide whether or not to continue. It’s hard for me to overlook something like that, but I was still interested in the setting and the plot, so I continued.

This is basically a story about a character having to face the past he’s been running from for years. That includes Dario’s older brother, who does a lot of ‘shrooms and wants desperately to be a scriptwriter for the studio. There’s Hayley, whose family succumbed to Moldavia and left her feeling like she owes Moldavia and Dario’s father for providing her a home. And then there’s Gavin, a child “intern” who appears in the blink of an eye and has come across Dario’s journal from when he was a child. Gavin represents a lot of uncertainty in Dario’s life, mostly his father’s less-than-admirable ways and his abusive nature. Not to mention, there’s Dario’s mother who’s been moved to a mental facility. That’s a lot to deal with, especially with the studio quickly crumbling.

The more I read, the more I let slide because I was entranced by Moldavia. Some of this book was just weird. Remember how I said Dario’s older brother wants to be a scriptwriter? Well, he writes a script and parts of it are laced throughout the book. It was the most humorous part and also the aspect where I really felt like the book paid homage to B-horror movie tropes.

There were so many monsters and actors who really took on their roles in everyday life. Plus, incredible costume description and also some misuse of props by characters that felt all too real. Oren, Dario’s brother, really is a bright light in Moldavia. Maybe more of a blinking neon light because guy is weird but also very heartwarming in a frustrating kind of way.

Like I’ve been saying, this book is dark. It tackles mental illness is a very abrupt, head-on way that doesn’t shy away from it. There are flashbacks from Dario’s childhood in which he talks about the abuse he suffered from as a child. I think it’s important if you decide to pick up this book, you go into it knowing that there are dark moments, but there’s also a lot of heart, and a lot of hope. It’s really a novel about acceptance, about finding yourself in a world that never really felt like it belonged to you.

I’ll admit, there were times I felt uncomfortable, times I wondered what the heck I was reading and if I should continue, but there was a part of me that I loved it. Scream All Night was a solid, funny debut that tackled tough subjects.

According to Goodreads, we can expect another book called Night Flight from Derek Milman in 2019. I’m definitely looking forward to reading it!

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