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Review of 'Deep and Dark and Dangerous'


Deep and Dark and Dangerous

By Mary Downing Hahn, 2007, Clarion Books

Ghost story, Mystery, Middle grade

Rating: 👻👻👻1/2 (3.5 out of 4 boos)


What is the book about?

“Just before summer begins, 13-year-old Ali finds an odd photograph in the attic. She knows the two children in it are her mother, Claire, and her aunt Dulcie. But who’s the third person, the one who’s been torn out of the picture?


Ali figures she’ll find out while she’s vacationing in Maine with Dulcie and her four-year-old daughter, Emma, in the house where Ali’s mother’s family used to spend summers. All hopes for relaxation are quashed shortly after their arrival, though, when the girls meet Sissy, a kid who’s mean and spiteful and a bad influence on Emma.


Strangest of all, Sissy keeps talking about a girl named Teresa who drowned under mysterious circumstances back when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never found. At first Ali thinks Sissy’s just trying to scare her with a ghost story, but soon she discovers the real reason why Sissy is so angry.”


What’s the main character like?

Ali is a great first-person narrator and very relatable for young readers. She loves her mom but has a hard time always getting along with her. She’s an enthusiastic babysitter. And she loves to read! Her flaw might be considered her curiosity.


How scary is it?

I don’t know if this makes sense, but this book is spooky in a soothing way. Although the ghostly events of the book would be extremely frightening and upsetting if occurring in real life, they are not so terrifying to read and are acceptably scary for young readers.


Who might like this book?

This book felt like every ghost story novel I read as a kid and loved. So while I think young fans of ghost stories will appreciate this book, I also believe older readers, particularly for nostalgic reasons, might enjoy this familiar-seeming story about a trip to a remote location gone wrong.


What did I like best?

The character Sissy drove me absolutely crazy. She is just awful! Mary Downing Hahn wrote her so well.


What wasn’t my favorite?

Some plot aspects felt a little obvious, yet the book still had some mysteries up its sleeves. And where an extra-twisty plot is missing, an effectively spooky atmosphere more than makes up for it!

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