05 November 2012

Review: Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick
Publication date: October 1, 2010
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books

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. Based on a little-known fact of the United States' involvement in World War II, Draw the Dark is a dark fantasy about reclaiming the forgotten past and the redeeming power of love.

I love the ASHES trilogy, so I was expecting to love DRAW THE DARK, but I ended up being a little disappointed (Not too much, though.).

This is a “Bick” book, so don't expect rainbows and pony rides. Like ASHES, DRAW THE DARK takes place in a pretty dark environment: a murder mystery, deaths, blood, Nazis, intense bullying that borderlines on evil. Okay, it's not borderline. It's evil. Christian has the power to draw people's nightmares for crying out loud. I, for one, always enjoy a setting of a small town where everyone knows everyone's business and townspeople keep secrets secretive. Christian, the outcast of the town, due to a suicide he was blamed for as a child (and some other accidents), finds himself in the middle of an old murder case. It has apparently been solved and no one wants to talk about it. Through Christian's “special skill” he discovers clues piece by piece that tell him the murder is anything but a closed case. Now here is the only big issue I had with the book: when an information “bomb” would be dropped, I already knew what the information was before the characters discovered it. I'm not saying these discoveries were predictable in the sense of “Pssh, I figured that out pages ago.” The problem was that I was surprised, most of the time, that the big reveal was an actual big reveal. It was more like, when there was a reveal, I thought to myself, “Oh. I thought we already knew that.” It left me scratching my head because I knew those moments were supposed to make me gasp or raise my eyebrows in surprise, but I assumed the reader would already know this info from signs or previous conversations between characters. I wish I could give examples, but I like to keep my reviews spoiler free and that's the best way to enjoy this book. I just hope what I explained makes sense...

Other than that, I enjoyed the story and the characters. Christian is a good example of how to write teen angst and not over do it. He is also a very complex principal which adds something extra to the story. The secondary characters weren't so bad themselves; I found each of them just as interesting. Along with the main mystery, I liked the added mystery involving the sideways place and sometimes found myself wanting to learn more about it at the times when, well, we weren't.

It's a quick read with plenty of surprising moments (yes, I could be surprised!). If you're looking for a good, dark and grisly mystery, check this one out!

1 comment :

  1. I don't know why I'm in the mood for grisly right now, but I just finished Long Lankin, I Hunt Killers, and House of Dead Maids this week. Eek! Totally going to listen to Draw the Dark next. You should chat with Ilsa someday, she is hilarious, talkative, and super-smart. I love her to bits!

    Thanks for your review, even with a little disappointment I think I'll really enjoy it.


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