Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn

Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story - Mary Downing Hahn


Sleepy Hollow Square: Ali joins her Aunt and cousin at a remote lake in Maine where thirty years ago something terrible happened.


When going through a box of books from her mother's childhood 13-year-old Ali finds a torn photo of her mother and Aunt Dulci as girls at a lake. All that remains of the third girl in the photo is a arm and the first letter of her name: 'T'. When Ali asks her mother about the photo, her mother grows pale and denies ever knowing anyone whose name began with T.


Ali absorbs this normal reaction until her Aunt Dulci and cousin Emma come over. Dulci has a proposition for Ali: stay the summer at the family's old lake house and watch 5-year-old Emma while Dulci works on her art. Ali is excited, but her mother is full of protests about how horrible and boring it is at the lake house - its why they stopped going 30 years ago. Ali is finally given permission, but knows there's a mystery to uncover.


This book was a lot of fun, I love how Hahn always works in shout-outs to classic kid fiction in her works. A cameo from a vintage Lenci doll (star of 'The Lonely Doll') was an unexpected bonus. She weaves certain themes of those books she references into the plot as well including Nancy Drew and Helen Cornish nearly drowning in 'The Bungalow Mystery', the loneliness of Edith in 'The Lonely Doll' profoundly influences Emma, and a subtle thread of class consciousness and justice reflects Ali's assignment to read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.


The atmosphere was top-notch, there were just a few loose ends among Hahn's secondary cast of characters that kept it from being perfect.