Thank you so much Harper Collins Teen for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! For some reason I went into this thinking it would be a haunted house story haha, but alas it was not that. What it actually was, was a unique coming of age story set in a mansion that’s the production house of horror movies with an assortment of eccentric characters. It was a lot different from the many coming of age stories I have read and because of that I found it really refreshing even with the typical YA cliches thrown in. I give this one 3.5 stars!
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?
I really liked how this coming of age story revolved around movie productions, specifically horror movie productions. It made for the perfect end of summer read to get ready for the Fall. It was also a fun way to see a different side of entertainment. The story itself was quick and easy to read and for a debut book I thought it was really well written.
I did enjoy the romance in this book and loved that it wasn’t the main focus. It was nice that for a YA book the romance wasn’t rushed or forced like it so often is. This romance had developed over time and made it for me, much more believable. I also liked the friendship between Dario and Jude. Jude was actually one of my favorite characters.
I didn’t really dislike anything in this book per say, but what made it more of an “ok” read rather than a really good one was just the typical YA tropes that annoy me. The timing of the book was frustrating to me, all these big life changes and decisions that happened in Dario’s life all occurred over essentially two months. I just feel like with as much baggage as Dario had and how much he talked about hating his old home, he really got over it quickly. Also the repetitive nature of Dario’s character in general got bothersome, he kept saying “what if I had never left” or “I shouldn’t have come back” so many times that it just started to feel like thats all his character said.
Overall it was a good read and there wasn’t much wrong with it other than my personal opinion being I enjoyed it, I just didn’t love it. I think a lot of people will really like this read and if you like coming of age books you should definitely pick this one up, especially at this time of year, the Fall!