Title: Draw the Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Published: 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 picked this up because of the cover and the blurb on the inside cover. I curled up with it and read it while everyone else was watching the Superbowl. It took me a little while to get into it, and then once I was fully seated in the story it jumped all over the place. In a way I felt that it was trying to emulate James Joyce’s style of stream of conscious, but it just wasn’t cutting it for me. Which made me a little sad because I love that style of writing. Things are introduced, major plot tools, only to be briefly touched on, and then not fully explained. Even when the main character taps into it–he doesn’t know what he’s doing, how he did it and so the reader gets lost along in the dark with him, and there’s no resolution or explanation to why it happens.
There’s also two different stories going on here. I think I would have liked it more if it focused on Christian’s abilities and parents, or the secondary turned primary story line of the Jews and Nazis in his small town. It felt rushed, and a bit awkwardly thrown together. I wouldn’t have finished it, but by the time I had decided to put it down, I had turned the last page. Speaking of the way this book ends is extremely frustrating to me.