Deep and Dark and Dangerous

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When Alison found a torn childhood photograph of her mom and aunt Dulcie, her mother’s estranged sister, in an old book, she was intrigued by the identity of the child that was supposedly in the picture with them. She accepted Dulcie’s invitation to spend the summer with her and babysit her cousin, Emma while vacationing in their summer house where her mom and aunt used to spend the summer when they were young.

They met Sissy, a spiteful kid who won’t leave the cousins alone and tried to brainwash Emma into bullying Ali. Sissy always gets Ali into trouble and scares her through mentioning Teresa, a young girl who drowned in a nearby lake when Claire and Dulcie were kids, and whose body was never recovered.¬†

Mary Downing¬† Hahn is one of my favorite authors. I’ve been dying to read this story and I wasn’t disappointed. Deep and Dark and Dangerous is more than a horror story. Just like other ghost stories written by this brilliant author, it relates other underlying issues and this time, it’s about parenting and how a childhood trauma could affect your future, if left unresolved.

I thought Claire, the protagonist’s mom was the bad person and I could understand why Ali would like to get away from her even for the summer. But I found out later on that Dulcie, her aunt was worse and Claire’s overprotectiveness soon made sense. At least Claire was responsible enough to seek professional help and acknowledge that her behavior is affecting her family while Dulcie tried to cover up her mistake with a brave front.

I love how mature the main character is and I feel bad for how Dulcie treated her during their stay at the vacation house. Her cousin is a total brat which was not surprising, being raised by a mentally unstable mom. I just hope Ali got paid for being Emma’s babysitter.

I saw comments of disappointed readers in goodreads who even compared this to Wait Till Helen Comes, another ghost story from the same author, but as much as I love Wait Till Helen Comes, I have to disagree with them. Deep and Dark and Dangerous definitely has my vote. It’s chilling and sad at the same time. The ghost was not exactly a friendly one and someone to be scared of like Helen but there’s something about her that gained my sympathy which I didn’t feel for Helen. Perhaps, it’s because they haunt for different reasons. Helen wanted someone to share her loneliness with ( aside from her longing for her parents and wanting to find their missing bodies) while the ghost in Deep and Dark and Dangerous¬† just wanted the truth to come out and for her body to have a proper burial so she could rest in peace.