REVIEW: "Draw The Dark", by Ilsa J. Bick

Title: Draw The Dark
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Format: aBook
Narrated by: Joshua Swanson
Length: 9 hours and 57 minutes
Publisher: Audible Inc
Audible Release Date: 01/10/2010

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 forgottenthe 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 have glorious news everybody. I'm in love! I know. It's a beautiful thing. Let me explain before my husband reads this over my shoulder and gets the wrong idea. After reading and reviewing Ashes fairly recently, I kept my eyes open for more of Ilsa J Bick's work. When I saw Draw The Dark on Audible I had to make it my own! After listening to it, I've decided that I'm in love with Bick's writing. 

You all know my love for Stephen King runs deep and I think one of the things I love about Bick's prose is that it reminds me of King. I'm not saying she's derivative at all! For me, one of the highest accolades I can afford an author is to say they remind me of Stephen King. An example of this echo is in the way Bick creates her protagonists. They're real and flawed and confused and wonderful. Another similarity is the way she creates her antagonists. She dreams up the types of villains who are so horrible and so utterly beyond redemption that they seem to crawl under your skin and scratch their fingernails along your nerves until you find yourself gritting your teeth every time they're on the pages.

I loved Christian Cage, the first-person protagonist of Draw The Dark. And I adored the narration by Joshua Swanson. Seriously... that guy's got a voice that makes you feel all tingly and warm. I don't often choose books based upon narrators, but I'll be keeping my eyes open for more books read by him. But anyway, back to the protagonist! The first person narrative really allows the audience to get inside Christian's head. He sees his flaws and puts them under the microscope while Bick's writing allows us to see how many of his flaws are forgiveable sins. That takes some seriously good writing. 

The semi-love-interest of the book was the only aspect of the book which irritated me. I couldn't warm to her as she seemed to lack empathy for Christian's plight. She was shallow and irritating. But then... she was a seventeen year old girl. I'm not saying all seventeen year old girls are shallow and irritating. What I'm trying to say is that she wasn't this perfect, smart, beautiful-without-knowing-it, Bella Swan type! She was kind of annoying at times, but she really did seem to want to do the best by Christian. 

The premise of the book was one which I didn't think I'd be able to engage with. I'm not really that "in to" the cold case sort of mystery explored in the novel. I am a big fan of the "otherworld" idea. Again, Bick's writing drew me in (...he he he..."drew"...). I was fascinated by Christian's narrative and was honestly gripped by the story. 

Some of the psychology discussed in the book made me wonder about Ashes. There's a passage where brainwaves and sleep are discussed and I wondered as I was listening if I might have been listening to the light-bulb moment for that book's creation. I like that sort of inter-connectivity of books, (like the intertextuality of King's work. See, another similarity). 

Overall, I loved this book. I'm going to hold back half a star because I can't see any mention of a sequel anywhere and I bloody well want one! 



  1. I don't think I would have looked twice at this book if I would have seen it on a shelf in a store. But seeing how much you loved the book made me eager to look into it- the audio book even. I love multi-layered stories and it sounds like this is one of them.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. Love your review! I can't wait to read Draw the Dark. Your blog is fantastic and I'm now a follower. Keep up the great work ~


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