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. Goodreads Hottest YA Books of Summer * B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated YA Debuts of 2018 * Buzzfeed 27 YA Books You’ll Want to Devour by the Pool This Summer
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?
When Dario Heywood, 17, left Moldovia Studios at age 12, he never intended to return. After starring in the cult classic Zombie Children of the Harvest Moon and suffering emotional and physical abuse from his father, Lucien the infamous auteur of all of the studio's B-horror creature features Dario was legally emancipated. Lured back by his brother, Oren, and his first love, Haley, to attend Lucien's funeral, Dario must contend with his personal demons and a desire to keep the studio solvent. Debut author Milman's darkly comedic coming-of-age story seamlessly combines monsters both real and imagined with difficult subjects such as neglect, abandonment, and psychosis. Moldovia Studios is a refuge for those who don't quite fit in anywhere else, and the paradox of it being a safe harbor while simultaneously bringing to life the things of nightmares works on an emotional and a psychological level. Dario's journey, though more extreme than most, is relatable, but the story's biggest lesson of all is that it is possible to go home again. Ages 14 up.