Draw the Dark, by Ilsa J Bick

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Author’s website
Publication date – April 27, 2011

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) 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.

Thoughts: I am a ghost in a land of phantoms and remembered nightmares.

To be perfectly honest, the only reason that this book didn’t get a 5-teacup rating is because of the method of narration toward the beginning of the story. It was written as people talk, complete with an overuse of “well,” “like,” and an ellipsis ended every third sentence. That thankfully ended after the first chapter or so, but while it was there, it was bordering on painful to read.

The rest of the book was pure dark deliciousness. This is a book that doesn’t pull any punches with what the reader can handle. I know a lot of people get their knickers in a twist when books for teens have swearing and expressions of sexuality. This has swearing, sexuality, crude humour, complete jackasses, and gory death.

The story contained in Draw the Dark was multilayered. The issue of the sideways place, the overarching mystery surrounding David Witek, and Christian’s everyday life and troubles with Karl Dekker all played their part and tied in with each other smoothly. Happily, the story didn’t end with the revelations of the Witek mystery, which I had been fearing it would. It continues on after that, ties up loose ends that could easily have been overlooked by readers, and ends the story in such a way that I really can’t imagine a more satisfying ending. I can imagine a happier one, sure, but not one more satisfying, nor so right-feeling.

Draw the Dark is truly a wonderful book, one that will make you want to keep turning the pages long after your common sense tells you it’s time to do something else. This isn’t just a book for teens. It’s a book for fans of horror in general, for those who enjoy a well-told supernatural mystery, and for those who want an example of what great first-person writing is. (Once you get past the beginning, that is.) Truly, this is not a book to be missed.

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley)

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