Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Genre: YA Horror/Mystery
Publication Date: October 1, 2010
Format: Paperback, 344 Pages
ISBN-10: 0-7613-8131-7 (Carolrhoda Lab)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7613-8131-0 (Carolrhoda Lab)
Reviewed by: Macie
There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town. That fire. Christian Cage.
Seventeen-year-old Christian’s parents disappeared when he was little. Ever since, he’s drawn obsessively: his mother’s face…her eyes…and what he calls “the sideways place,” where he says his parents are trapped.
But Christian also draws ugly things. Evil things. Things like other people’s fears and nightmares. Their pasts. Their destiny.
There’s one more thing the people of Winter would like to forget: murder.
But Winter won’t be able to forget the truth, no matter how hard it tries. Not as long as Christian draws the dark…
Quick and Dirty: The mysteries that surround Winter, Wisconsin and Christian Cage make this an interesting and surprising read.
Opening Sentence: So. Everything I need to leave is here: My brushes. Paint. The wall.
Christian Cage wakes up one morning after an intense dream about a kid pleading with his father with red paint covered hands, but no notion of how it got there. After being accused of vandalizing a barn with Nazi imagery despite not remembering any of it, Christian’s life starts to spiral downhill in a haze of mysteries, reoccurring dreams based on historical events, and odd mutterings in his head that make Christian afraid that he is actually going crazy. Christian does his own research to find out what is happening to him and what went on in his town decades ago that seems to be reaching out to him now through his dreams and flashbacks.
Christian, a teenage orphan living with his uncle in a tiny town in Wisconsin, is a quiet loner who draws and paints on his walls, sometimes in his sleep, of what he calls the sideways place, an alternate world he believes his parents are trapped in. Christian has the uncanny talent of being able to draw other people’s fears that come alive when he is angry, which has lead to pain and death of those close to him, including his Aunt Jean.
The book is written from a first person point of view of a troubled teen that doesn’t fit in to the society he lives in, but is comfortable with who he is. Christian seems like a genuine person, and the book follows his thoughts and actions as he tries to figure out the mysteries that surround him and his tiny town.
The other characters are just as intriguing as Christian. His uncle, Hank, and his therapist, Dr. Ranier, are well written and believable as real people with their hidden past and emotions that come out as the book progresses and Christian learns more about those around him.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and the urge to find out about the mysteries that Christian was uncovering, including whether the sideways place was real, or if he is actually crazy. I also liked that Christian is an artist, and a knowledgeable guy. I identified with that, and would expect other artsy readers will also find this book an interesting read.
The ending leaves the reader questioning what is real and what is possible in this intriguing, very different novel that kept me reading to the very end, and wanting more after it was over.
Something changed in my head after that. Maybe it was the day finally catching up to me, or perhaps my subconscious picked up on yet another tumbler falling into place. But when I heard about that dead baby, there was this sensation of something going click in my mind, almost the same as when I drew, only not as nice. I knew without knowing how, that the baby and the weirdness I’d done at Mr. Eisenmann’s barn were somehow connected. Winter was too small, the history too intertwined for all of this not to be. I had no idea how these two things could be connected, but they were. My problem was I couldn’t talk to anyone about my feelings. Heck, I wasn’t even sure what they were. Even if I had, I’d probably have sounded pretty crazy. Considering that’s how most people saw me anyway, maybe that would’ve been par for the course and there’d have been no harm done.
But. Even now, I wonder what would’ve happened if I’d spoken up just a little sooner. If I had, maybe a couple other people wouldn’t have gotten killed. I don’t know that for sure, but I think so.
FTC Advisory: Carolrhoda Books provided me with a copy of Draw the Dark. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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