Friday, October 4, 2013
Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story - Review
Author: Mary Downing Hahn
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. . . . Mary Downing Hahn is at her chilling best in this new supernatural tale that’s certain to send shivers down her readers’ spines.
I read this book to preview it for the students at my school. They love horror books and scary books, especially at this time of the year. They usually troop into the library, asking me for "the scariest book in the library". This book just looks creepy, doesn't it? This cover kind of freaks me out, that face! Eeek!
Poor Ali's mom has some issues. She is overly sensitive, cries easily, and can't seem to deal with situations like an adult. This would be so hard for a 13 year old to understand, and when Ali gets the chance to escape the situation, she jumps at it. Her Aunt Dulcie, so different from her mother, fun and spirited, invites Ali to spend the summer with her and her daughter Emma, at their cottage on the lake in Maine.Part of the deal is that Ali would be responsible for watching her little cousin, who is six years younger than her. Ali and Emma get along very well though, so Ali is unconcerned about this - it will actually be fun for her to hang out with Emma during the summer. Ali's mom however fights allowing Ali to go with her Aunt, saying its too dangerous, and that Ali would not enjoy it. Ali eventually is allowed to go, and when she leaves, her mom makes sure to tell her that she can come home at anytime.
Before the trip, Ali found a photo of her mother and aunt, from when they were children at the lake. She could see another arm, and the letter T on the back listed with the names. However, when she asked her mom who the other person was, she denied there was anyone else there. When Ali asked Dulcie, she too, denied the existence of anyone else..
When they get to the cottage, at first, all is well. Emma and Ali play nicely together, while Dulcie works. Then Ali and Emma meet Sissy, and it all goes downhill from here. Ali and Emma begin to argue more, Emma refuses to listen to Ali, is sassy, and basically turns into a brat. Little things start to happen, some small, some dangerous, just like Ali's mom warned the lake was. Dulcie unfairly blames everything on Ali, and I feel so sorry for her! The adults in this book leave something to be desired, but perhaps it is because this book is written for kids, from the point of view of a 13 year old. Ali is on a mission to discover who this girl is. Slowly, slowly, the spooky factor begins, and things fall into place, with Sissy and with the mystery. I read this while I was home alone (except for my animals), and a couple of times I had to look over my shoulder, I was feeling super creeped out. The atmosphere of this book is perfect - rainy, dark, gloomy, the feeling of being isolated and alone, an ominous mystery...if I had read this at a lake house on a foggy morning or a rainy afternoon, I would have definitely been scared. In my house on a hot day, I was just jumpy. I think that this is a perfect read for those kids between 3rd and 6th grade who like scary and spooky books!