Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: Draw the Dark by Ilsa J. Bick

Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release Date: 10/01/2010
ISBN: 076135686X

Sometimes first impressions can be misleading. When I first took a look at this book, I have to admit that I passed it over in favor of other flashier titles that were out there in the YA categories on NetGalley. I kept coming back to it though- the idea of the book just sounded interesting. I have to keep reminding myself that sometimes some of the best books can be the most unassuming.

Christian would like to tell you that he's just your average teenager, but that'd be far from the truth. From a young age he's always been thought of as different. One of his first teachers hung herself because of what she saw in one of his drawings. His aunt suffered a horrible car accident after he drew something for her in a fit of anger. His parents mysteriously disappeared, although he doesn't think he had anything to do with that. So it's no wonder that most townsfolk view him as a freak. You see, he can't help but draw & many times his drawings show people an uglier side of themselves they'd rather ignore. When Christian finds himself in trouble for graffiti drawn on a barn belonging to the richest man in town he discovers that he's uncovered something truly ugly- something that the town's been hiding for years. Nazi prison camps, murder, & a door without a doorknob, Christian is about to discover that his peculiar talent might actually help save him rather than hurt him.

Bick manages to write a solidly entertaining book that crosses over several different genres & succeeds at thrilling the audience. Many readers will be surprised to discover that the USA hosted several Nazi prisoner of war camps instead of it being something Bick cooked up for the book. (I've always been aware of other types of internment camps, but not these.) This helps bring a much needed level of realism to the book that makes the more fantastical & supernatural elements of the book that much more effective.

The characters in the book are wonderfully written & many readers will be glad that Christian doesn't spend the majority of the book angsting or being emo about his predicament in life. That frees up a lot of time for him to wonder exactly what is going on with him & give the reader a nice look into his past & current ways of thinking. The only downfall is that the book does take a while to get started & some readers will have to give the book a little for it to establish itself. Once the book gets started the pace of the book picks up very quickly & you'll find yourself frantically reading just to find out what exactly will happen next.

I'll warn the reader- Bick leaves the book open-ended enough to where she could very, VERY easily write a sequel or three if she chose to. (I hope she chooses to.) This book was far better than I could have ever hoped & when I finally reached the last page, it was with a little bit of regret- I really wanted to know what would happen with Christian, his talents, & everyone around him.

(ARC provided by Netgalley)


  1. Thank you for such a lovely review! And, yes, I AM planning a sequel (just as soon as I clear the decks . . .).

    BTW, as a blogger, you might be interested in checking out the upcoming KidLitCon: My awesome editor at Carolrhoda is one of the organizers and it's geared specifically for bloggers.

  2. Yay! A sequel! And thanks for the link- I'll have to check it out. I'm very new to the whole blogging thing, so I can use any bit of help I can get!

    Thanks for commenting on my blog! I'm always so excited when an author finds one of the reviews I've written!