Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Review: Draw the Dark, by Ilsa J. Bick

I’m not sure what to say about Draw the Dark. This book has a very unique plot that still has me thinking about Christian, the main character.

When Christian was young, his father and then his mother disappeared. He is convinced they are in “the sideways place,” which he has depicted in a mural on his bedroom wall. Christian draws things in his sleep, and when he draws some evil things on the side of a barn, he is sentenced to clean up and repaint the barn, do community service at a home for the elderly, and see a psychiatrist. But he doesn't remember doing this.

Christian begins to be able to enter other people’s thoughts, and he can draw what they are thinking or scenes from their past. He doesn’t understand why this happens, or how to control it. Fortunately his doctor is sympathetic and open minded.

There is a mystery about a murder that happened in the barn many years ago, and also a baby’s body was found buried in the hearth of an old house. Christian begins to investigate and finds out about Nazi war prisoners that worked at the local factory. He also finds out about a population of Jews, and the fact that their synagogue was burned. But does this fit together with any of the mysterious happenings?

There are so many facets of the story that Bick weaves together at the end. Every page brings a different and unexpected twist as the mysteries are explained. And the biggest mystery for Christian—his mother and father’s disappearance—is that a mystery that he can solve? Or should he just try to be happy with the life he has been given?

I just read what I wrote, and I feel like I haven’t really explained this book. I can’t. You just have to read it. It’s very dark, and macabre. Christian is a sympathetic character, but he’s also kind of crazy. He believes that his drawings have killed people.  He has a support system in the form of his doctor and his uncle, which gave me some hope as I worked my way through these horrible episodes.

Bick has created a unique, supernatural mystery that will appeal to teens, boys or girls, and adults that like a twisted, dark tale. Ilsa J. Bick has a new book, Ashes, that comes out in a couple of weeks. I think it’s very different than Draw the Dark, but after reading this one, Ashes will definitely be on my reading list.

Published by Carolrhoda, 2010
Copy obtained from the library
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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