Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Draw the Dark - Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

Goodreads Summary:
There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they'd really like to forget is Christian Cage.

Seventeen-year-old Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy. 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. Christian figures if he can just see through his mother's eyes, maybe he can get there somehow and save them.

But Christian also draws other things. Ugly things. Evil things. Dark 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...

What drew me to this book was that it wasn't like many of the fantasy novels lining up the young adult shelves. It wasn't a paranormal romance. It wasn't a mocking of the genre either. Rather, it was a blend of fantasy, mystery and history. And it was history part caught me. I wouldn't say I'm a history buff, but I do like learning about parts of history that rarely make it in the textbooks I had. Like when the White House was burnt down in 1814 by Great Britain. Or the forced sterilization of certain individuals and groups in the 19th and early 20th century. So when I saw "Nazis came to town", I was intrigued.

In this story, debut author Bicks weaves 1940s American into the life of contemporary teen, Christian. As Christian sleepwalks and draws, he is pulled into the town's past. Into a history that many would like to keep buried. I was amazed at the skill Bicks had in combining the historical with the fantastical to build a suspenseful mystery. She didn't veer off into too much history, though I probably wouldn't have minded, nor did she overdo the fantasy. It was just the right mix of both to move the story along.

While I initially picked it up for the historical elements, it was hard not to care about Christian Cage. His parents disappeared as a child and he was raised by the town sheriff. Due to the rumors about the disappearance of his parents and an unfortunate suicide of his first grade teacher (which some of the townspeople blame him for), he grew up pretty much a loner. The only thing he cares about is his art and finding a way into the 'sideways place'. Christian is a gifted artist, but his gifts extend beyond his drawing skills. He draws the things people fear the most. Their deepest, darkest secrets that they lock away. So he isolates himself from people. To keep them from getting hurt. To stop himself from unintentionally hurting other people.

Draw the Dark is a great book. Once I started, I lost myself in Winter, Winconsin as Christian attempts to figure out the messages his blackouts and dreams are telling him. Ilsa J. Bick definitely created a intricate mystery that will engage readers, both male and female. And with some loose threads at the end, I hope that means a sequel will be forthcoming.

Book Source: ARC borrowed from librarian

Author Website | Indiebound | Goodreads


Kim @ Honeyed Words said...

I love the cover for this. It seems especially appropriate considering the main character. Thanks for sharing!

Ilsa J. Bick said...

Thank you so much for your lovely and thoughtful review! And, yes, that cover IS fabulous.

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