Draw the Dark

Draw the Dark

4.3 7
by Ilsa J. Bick, Joshua Swanson

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There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they’d really like to forget is Christian Cage.

Seventeen-year-old Christian’s parents disappeared when he was a little boy. Ever since, he’s drawn obsessively: his mother’s face…her eyes


There are things the people of Winter, Wisconsin, would rather forget. The year the Nazis came to town, for one. That fire, for another. But what they’d really like to forget is Christian Cage.

Seventeen-year-old Christian’s parents disappeared when he was a little boy. Ever since, he’s drawn obsessively: his mother’s face…her eyes…and what he calls “the sideways place,” where he says his parents are trapped. Christian figures if he can just see through his mother’s eyes, maybe he can get there somehow and save them.

But Christian also draws other things. Ugly things. Evil things. Dark things. Things like other people’s fears and nightmares. Their pasts. Their destiny.

And some thing the people of Winter would rather forget – like murder.

But Winter won’t be able to forget the truth, no matter how hard it tries. Not as long as Christian draws the dark…

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Christian is a loner at school--which is what tends to happen when you live in a small town with a hidden history, your parents have disappeared, you hear voices in your head from "the sideways place," and you can draw people to death. Sometimes Christian's drawings are taken over by the thoughts of those around him, and when he draws their deepest fears, they die. But now something new is happening: Christian is falling into the life of an eight-year-old boy who lived during the 1940s when Winter, Wis., was home to German WWII prisoners who performed labor in town. The boy witnessed an atrocious crime, and Christian gets caught up in the mystery he uncovers. Though the story is at times hard to follow, as Christian moves in and out of his life and tries to understand his connection to the mysterious "sideways place" that plays a pivotal role in the story's climax, Bick builds the gripping supernatural/historical mystery to a satisfying conclusion that demonstrates the evils of the present can be just as terrifying as those of the past. Ages 12–18. (Oct.)
VOYA - Robbie L. Flowers
It is one thing to have your own bad memories—it is another to have the collective bad memories of a town filed away in your head. Christian knows this torment intimately, as he has taken to drawing the dark images that lace his mind. With both of his parents missing in action, he finds himself drawing inexplicable images and, worse yet, embattled in wars that he cannot recall creating. This loner discovers his sleepy town's nasty little secret of what really happened when the Nazis arrived. He also becomes a bit of an unsuspecting medium for connecting the town's past and present. This offering is chock-full of action and vivid characterization. The plot is unique and highlights a time that is often overlooked in American history—it will keep readers engaged and wondering how it will all end. The author paints vivid depictions of Christian's mind, and the reader will be right there with him along for the ride. The ending will leave the reader holding on for dear life. The author has a few loose ends, but something this enthralling should never be expected to end neatly or conform to traditional literary notions. This title is a must for any school or public library—it is not to be missed. Reviewer: Robbie L. Flowers
Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
In this young adult psychological thriller, our young lead character, Christian, changes the typical definition of hero when he plays the role of both antagonist and protagonist not unlike Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. This story takes the reader through many emotional roller coasters and twists and turns that keep them guessing what will happen next. The setting is a normal small town in middle-of-nowhere America that holds an almost century-old secret that slowly starts to surface as Christian grows from a young lad to his seventeenth year on Earth. As an already hormonal and confused teenager, Christian finds himself engulfed in death including the previous suicide of one of his elementary teachers and the sudden death of his aunt which are both linked to him through his incredible ability to draw death. Nothing makes sense until Christian meets an older man in a retirement home, and now the facts start to add up. Bick creates an original story that sheds light on the way that Jews, Italians, Japanese and German immigrants were treated in the United States during World War II. I had a hard time picturing him as a seventeen-year-old; his thoughts, reactions and his emotional immaturity pegged him as much younger. It also seemed that his relationship with Sarah was contrived to move the plot along. The story line does pull the reader right up to the breathtaking ending. Due to violence and adult content, I would recommend this book to mature young adults. Reviewer: Julia Beiker
School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 9 Up—Christian Cage, 17, is a gifted artist and the dark curiosity his small town community would like to ignore. Christian's parents disappeaedr when he was young. Then, one of his elementary school teachers nearly committed suicide, pointing a finger at Christian in her note, and there was the death of Christian's aunt. Death seems to follow the boy, and the residents of Winter, Wisconsin, don't even know half the story about the true darkness that inhabits Christian's drawings. When the teenager defaces a prominent citizen's barn with Nazi symbols, he comes into the spotlight again and is sentenced to community service and therapy. Working at the local rest home, Christian finds himself suddenly dropping into the memories of Winter's last surviving Jewish resident. As he researches David's past, Christian discovers covered up murders, hate crimes, and the year that Nazi war prisoners came to Winter. Joshua Swanson infuses Christian's narrative with just the right amounts of self-doubt, obsessive behavior, and confusion. As Christian delves deeper into the dark history of his town and faces his own demons, Swanson draws listeners easily into the suspenseful tale. Ilse J. Bick's intriguing book (Carolrhoda, 2010) may spark listeners to do more research into the years following World War II and the prisoners' experiences in America.—Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Drawing has had unusual repercussions in 17-year-old Christian Cage's life: His mother has vanished to a sideways place he drew, his aunt drowned in a sinking car exactly as he sketched it out and he defaced a barn of the wealthiest man in Winter, Wisc., in his sleep. While he is doing restitution work for the barn incident, Christian has visions of a terrible 1945 murder involving a Jewish union organizer and a German factory owner who imported prisoners of war. Bick's tight plotting drives the action forward, and dream drawing sequences provide tantalizing clues. Characterization is thin, however; the historical characters are more realized than the contemporary ones, and Christian's attempts to deal with his guilt appear genuine but lack emotional impact. Resolving a twisted mystery with a surprising solution, the tense narrative unfortunately loses cohesion in tying up a few minor plot points. These small flaws notwithstanding, this otherwise excellent mystery might bring new life to a neglected genre. (Mystery. YA)

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ilsa J. Bick is a child psychiatrist, as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe, former Air Force major and an award-winning author of short stories, e-books and novels. She has also written for several long-running sci-fi series, and her original stories have been featured in numerous anthologies, magazines and online venues.

Isla currently lives with her family and several furry creatures in rural Wisconsin, near a Hebrew cemetery. One thing she loves about the neighbors: They’re very quiet and only come around for sugar once in a blue moon.

Follow her blog at www.ilsajbick.com.

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Draw the Dark 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
J-Tell_All More than 1 year ago
Life changing read it backwards makes so much more sense:)
CillianRune More than 1 year ago
Although Barnes and Noble classified it as Non Fiction, it is Supernatural Fiction, already sent the title correction... I didn't like the book. It was slow paced and boring, had too many lose ends, and the ending was an insult to the readers intelligence, I found myself re-reading the same paragraph because I couldn't believe that the author thought that the conclusion was anywhere close to clever. Does Ilsa Bick think that her readers are a bunch of driveling simpletons? And whatever happened to the Sideways Place? I'm sorry to say that the best part of this book is the cover.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
The cover is what drew me to the book I didn't even read the synopsis at all until I went onto Goodreads to add this book to my current reading list. This wasn't as scary as I thought it would be with the title being Draw the Dark. Mostly this book is about a young boy who ends up solving a murder that happened back in 1945. The murder is something that has been kind of swept under the rug so to speak. Christian has had a rough childhood both of his parents have disappeared when he was little and that has led him to draw and paint in a way that makes it almost obsessive. He lived with is Aunt and Uncle until one day he believes he caused his Aunt to die by drawing her death, because of his ability to draw and weird things happening to those that are around him people find him to be weird and try to stay away from him. The one thing that is on his mind constantly is a door that appears on his wall without a knob, what does it mean? He does want to find out but what will it cost him? Because of this one day he finds himself in trouble and has to do community service in a home for the elderly, this in turn sets off the events that has Christian wondering what is going on with himself and what it all has to do with the past. It seems that Christian's brain is like an opening for being a psychic in a way so to speak it is hard to put into words unless you read the book. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the murder of the past and was very surprised at the ending when Christian solved the truth. My only issue with the book is why when Christian got angry enough he could draw the future of those that made him mad and they would end up dying in some way. When the bully that pretty much singles him out is bullying him constantly he doesn't do anything until towards the end of the book. Now I could understand why as it all becomes clear but it was a bit of why keep the bullying going in a way. Christian was a character you felt sorry for at times, but really appreciate the talent he has in drawing. Over all a good story for all to enjoy even though this is a YA I would recommend it for the teens to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It starts off a little slow, but by the end you won't have put it down for a good few hours. It is an odd twist on a classic mystery. A little unorthadox, but satisfying nonetheless. The only problem with this book is the mystery of the ¿sideways place¿ that is never quite revealed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Mr. Eisenmann, who had absolutely no mercy for anyone, let alone a seventeen-year-old orphaned kid who decided to deface his rickety old barn, turned to Hank and simply said, "This boy isn't right." Not many people would be when their Dad up and left when they were a year old, their Mom sorta went bonkers after the fact, and then up and disappeared a couple of years later. Christian's mother had left behind the cover from a book, one that she used to peer into looking for his father. He never could, "figure out how to see into it the right way," and he had developed an, "obsession with trying to see the world through her eyes." He knew he couldn't find his way into the sideways place where his parents were and he knew he couldn't have painted the words "I SEE YOU" on the side of that darn barn along with swastikas and, "a pair of bloodred eyes," the eyes of a wolf. He was sleeping for crying out loud. His Uncle Hank, who'd taken him in when he was young, was exasperated. Being the sheriff of Winter, Wisconsin, wasn't easy and now this. A baby's body turned up bricked into the hearth at the old Ziegler place, but somehow that seemed mild in comparison to Christian's whacked out thinking at times. Everyone thought that he'd driven Ms. Stefancyzk crazy when he was in first grade. She'd written a suicide note, with his name in it no less, and slipped that noose right over her head. Christian, as well as half the town, knew he killed her. This thing with Eisenmann was just another nail in the coffin so far as he was concerned, but his friend Sarah tried to console him by saying, "But a lot of creative people are borderline crazy." Borderline crazy and crazy weren't too far apart. He could actually draw people to death. Seriously, he could. This amazingly simple, yet intricate book about the evil aura surrounding Winter, Wisconsin, will mesmerize the reader. There was just the right touch of paranormal to keep my nose in this book from the time I started until the time I finished later in the day. Christian, who has the same insecurities that all the rest of us do, is unfortunately saddled with a blessing or a curse (whichever way you want to look at it) that separates him from the crowd. All eyes, even the evil wolf eyes, are on this boy who claims uncertainly, "I guess you'd say I was losing it. I was beyond freaked out." The writing was exquisitely enticing, creepy, and will draw in not only the younger audience, but also is quite capable of reeling in the adult reader. Part of the strata of this novel is based on American prisoner of war camps during WWII, an aspect that made this paranormal journey into the past even more intriguing. Quill says: If you want to blow into the town of Winter and feel a wisp of insanity as the hair rises on your arms, perhaps this book is for you!