By: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Publication Date: October 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: December 2010
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.
Sometimes he could hear the muttering in his head, but that wasn’t quite as scary as when he woke up in the morning and saw a drawing on his pad. Christian knew that some sort of evil had swept him into the unknown. He had begun slipping into the body of a boy, a boy named David who had been in that barn. He was seeing things through his eyes, eyes that were telling him what really had gone on in there. It was so real, but so long ago there were even horses in the stalls. There had been an unsolved murder in the barn, but what did that have to do with him? He was pushing the envelope with Sarah, but she still tried to help him. “Do you know how many people don’t like you? Do you know how many people think you’re flat out weird?” Yeah, maybe he did and maybe he just didn’t care. Why was that barn drawing him closer? Was there some sort of connection between that baby and the barn? Just how come there was so much evil in a lily white place like Winter, Wisconsin, and no one could see it but him? What would happen if he made that final step and drew himself a passageway to the sideways place?
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!