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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

He Draws. They Die. You Read. Like Now.

(Image from Indiebound)
Do you ever wonder why so many mediocre books generate all kinds of buzz while other, more phenomenal titles get completely ignored? I do. Especially when I read a novel like Ilsa J. Bick's Draw the Dark. Because, seriously, this one should be getting a lot more attention.
The story revolves around 17-year-old Christian Cage, a troubled misfit living with his uncle in tiny Winter, Wisconsin. Ever since his parents disappeared, Christian's drawn obsessively - in his sketchbook, on his bedroom walls, everywhere. Not pretty landscapes either, but the dark, disturbing images he sees in his nightmares. He calls his creepy dreamworld "the sideways place" and he's convinced his parents are somehow trapped inside it. Christian's even drawn a door, a knobless gateway he knows will lead him straight into his nightmares, maybe to his parents. If only he could suck up enough courage to step through it.
Or maybe he's just crazy, like everyone says. All he knows is that when he draws, his illustrations have a strange way of coming true. And killing people.
When an old barn belonging to the most powerful man in town is defaced with graffiti, Christian's blamed for the crime. No surprise there. Except that, while he can't actually remember spray painting the barn, he's pretty sure he did it. He's also fairly certain that the swastikas he drew on the structure mean something. The barn pulses with a strange energy, a sinister thrum that pulls Christian in, assaulting his mind with voices, images and memories that don't belong to him. Secrets hide in the structure's rotting wood, long-buried truths begging for release. But exposing them will mean traipsing through hidden memories, whispering with ghosts, drawing the dark. And, as Christian knows all to well, nothing good has ever come of that.
I can't do justice to the brilliant intricacy of Bick's plotting. Suffice it to say that Draw the Dark offers an original premise, a compelling mystery and an overall story that's as riveting as it is satisfying. To say the book entranced me isn't enough - more like it swalllowed me whole. The second it spit me out, I lunged toward my computer, desperate for news of a sequel and fully prepared to beg for one. According to Bick, one's in the works, although as she says, "My book ideas line up like 747s on a runway; the sequel just has to wait its turn for take-off." Ahem. Did I say beg? I meant plead. And grovel. And bribe. Because while Draw the Dark concludes in the most perfect, satisfying way possible, I'm not quite ready for Christian's story to end. Not even close.
(Readalikes: Reminds me a little of The Body Finder and Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting)
Grade: A-
If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for strong language (a few F-bombs, plus other, milder invectives), violence and some sexual content
To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Draw the Dark from the generous folks at Carol Rhoda LAB. Thank you!


  1. I read about this book a few days ago somewhere - can't remember what blog. Anyway, it sounded so good and I downloaded it to my Kindle. Hope to get to it soon - even more now that I see you gave it an A-ish rating. :-)

  2. Well, I was looking to pad my TBR list, anyway.... :)

  3. What an awesome review! I love your writing style. I've been looking for a way to do reviews that are outside of the norm, but concise enough to keep everyone's attention. Kudos to you!!

    Now, this book sounds horrifying and amazing all at once. I think I'd like to see it as a movie because I'm a scaredy cat. But I dunno, maybe I'll check this one out after your stellar review :)

    Lah @ LazyGirl Reads

  4. That sounds fantastic - I swear, some of the most original and inventive stuff is coming out in YA any more.

  5. This sounds awesome... intriguing, suspenseful, and unique! I'll have to add it to my wishlist :) Thanks for reviewing!

  6. Oooo! It sounds quite good. I'll have to add it to my TBR list. I hate when good books don't get the attention they deserve!

  7. This sounds really good! I haven't seen it in my bookstore yet. When did it come out? I notice at my store that there will be books I hear about from the blogs I follow that have read ARC's, but then we never get that book in the store. So I have to order it in. I'll definitely check this one out and put it on my TBR list.


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