The main issue that I had with Draw the Dark was that Ilsa failed to properly explain the supernatural elements of her world. The reader is given snippets of information throughout the story which are enough to piece together the basics, but still, every time there was a scene where some information of significance came up it concluded prematurely with an incomplete thought or a flashback. Even though these flashbacks were entertaining and crucial to the overall storyline, a proper explanation of the rules of the world would have been nice since there is some genre bending that goes on. Things that should have made sense were often confusing, and Christian's abilities were unclear. Yes, he can tap into people's memories and draw the visions of their past, but somehow his power is also connected to the "Sideways Place," an alternate reality that he can tap into with his drawings? I end that sentence with a question because I'm not even sure if that was the case.
There were pieces of this story that I think worked very well. Though Ilsa took some liberty with the research and historical elements of this book, watching Christian try to solve a murder that took place in 1946 was really interesting and I learned a lot about POW camps in the US after WWII. In addition, Christian was a great character, and Ilsa does a good job describing his transition from a boy to a young man. He starts out as an outsider, feared and scorned by the residents of Winter for his odd behavior and artistic talent (he has a thing for drawing creepy eyes). As a result, he's a bit of a Debbie Downer and doesn't do anything to befriend anyone around him (even when they extend a kind hand). This made him hard to relate to at first, but his emotions and thoughts felt so real and dripped with such lonliness that it was hard not to feel bad and cheer for him towards the end when he decides to set aside his depression and take control of his problems and power.
Really, I think the book just needed a tighter editing job. There IS a great story here, but it was a bit hard to find. Elements of a thriller, murder mystery, historical fiction, and paranormal fiction are combined to create a completely new experience for the reader. Seriously, I have no idea how you would categorize this book since it was so unique, but in a sense, Ilsa's innovation got crushed by the weight of everything she tried to accomplish. Will there be a sequel? I hope so. Ilsa certainly left it open for a second book, and I'm very curious to see if she expands on this "Sideways Place," that seems to be connected to Christian's power. Overall, it was bit of a disappointment but an interesting read nonetheless, and one that I'm not soon to forget. (Especially since it takes place in Wisconsin. As a native Sconnie, I love it when my state is mentioned!)