“”Why is it always the bad stuff people remember, and never the good stuff?” “Because the bad stuff leaves the scars””
Rating: 3/5 stars
Release Date: July 24, 2018
Thank you to the author and the publisher for providing me with an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
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?
tw: child abuse, mental illness, mentions of suicide
So this was extremely unique, eccentric, and a little bit odd all wrapped in one. When I spoke to the author about reviewing this he explained this was “a fun story, with a dark emotional core, that combines screwball comedy, romance, family drama, and monster movies” and boy was he not kidding. This book covers many topics that a contemporary would. It has the coming of age bits, finding your first love, family issues, planning your future, and all of that good stuff but the rest of the story is so original and unique.
Basically the story goes as follows, Dario’s childhood was anything but normal, he grew up in a castle that served as the set and studio for many horror films directed by his father. Dario, becomes legally emancipated from his family after being neglected and abused by his father to become “the perfect actor” for Zombie Children of the Harvest Sun, which is Moldavia’s best film. The story beings with Dario getting a phone call at the group home he currently lives in from his brother asking Dario to return back to Moldavia for his father’s funeral… except his father is still alive and is planning on burying himself alive. Totally not kidding.
As the story continues Dario finds himself getting sucked back into the one place he told himself he would never return and the story begins exploring much deeper topics. It tackles issues like grief, overcoming his abusive past, and reconciling with family. It’s no surprise that Dario’s family is just as unique as this story, which sometimes made it difficult for me to get into, especially connecting with some of the characters. But I was definitely not expecting this story to get as deep as it really did, which was a pleasant surprise. Without giving away any spoilers I will say that I was also very pleased with the choice Dario made for his future and the last word of this book really packed a punch for me. So make sure you don’t skip to the end and and read the last page, it will spoil everything.
Along with all of the topics this book tackles it also includes a strong friendship between Dario and Jude (a boy from Dario’s group home) which I absolutely LOVED. This book also does have a bit of romance in it since Dario returns back to Moldavia and his first love still lives there, but I didn’t find it overpowering in any way. I thought it was the perfect amount of romance and friendship all in one.
All in all, I am glad I gave this book a chance because I can truly say I have never read anything quite like this before. And even though I think this book will only appeal to certain readers it is still definitely worth checking out.
Until next time!