Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick site
Format: Hardcover, 338 pages
Publisher: Carolrhoda Labs (Lerner)
“There are things in Winter, Wisconsin, folks just don't talk about. The murder way back in '45 is one. The near-suicide of a first-grade teacher is another. And then there is 17-year old Christian Cage. Christian's parents disappeared when he was a little boy, and ever since he's drawn and painted obsessively, trying desperately to remember his mother. The problem is Christian doesn't just draw his own memories. He can draw the thoughts of those around him. Confronted with fears and nightmares they'd rather avoid, people have a bad habit of dying. So it's no surprise that Christian isn't exactly popular. What no one expects is for Christian to meet Winter's last surviving Jew and uncover one more thing best forgotten the day the Nazi's came to town.”
Christian Cage is a 17 year old artist, living in the small town of Winter, WI. Strange things have always seemed to happen to those close to Christian, so most of the town is wary of him. When Christian ends up sleep painting on the side of a barn belonging to the richest and most influential man in town, it opens up a whole new can of worms involving a mystery over half a century old.
As for Christian, I don’t have much to say one way or the other. He’s a very unimpressionable character for me. He was definitely on the angsty, everybody-hates-me, depressed/crazy artist side of things. I did like that another character in the book plainly pointed this out, so I know it was intentional. I don’t usually like self-pitying protagonists though, so it’s a given.
Plot and Story:
Draw the Dark is definitely an unconventional book written in an unconventional way. It is also a hard book to critique because I’m not sure of all that happened. It took me 100 pages of the book to finally understand what was going on, and then I was lost for the last 100 pages. It was an incredibly hard book to follow and understand. I don’t think at all that Ilsa Bick was just winging it or BS’ing the reader in any way. I could tell that the author had a clear picture of what was going on. The problem was in conveying her vision to the reader.
Something positive I can say for the book is that, in the middle part I understood, the book does cover an interesting piece of US history I was unaware of. I would say what it is but for those who intend to read the book, I don’t want to spoil anything.
Unfortunately this book was very hard to understand and I wasn’t always sure what was going on. I really wanted to like it because I’d liked Ilsa J. Bick’s other novel Ashes so much. In the end, I give it 2.5 of 5 stars.