Thursday, May 9, 2024

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn


DEEP AND DARK AND DANGEROUS is a fantastic middle grade gothic ghost story about a girl who goes to the lake for the summer, only to find out that her mother and her aunt are harboring a dark and terrible secret. It all starts when Ali finds a picture in one of her mother's old books of three girls: her mother, her aunt, and a mysterious girl whose face has mostly been torn away.

When she asks her mother about it, she shuts down. So she wants until her aunt comes to visit and her aunt acts just as strange. With the persistence only a kid can summon, she manages to convince her aunt to take her to the lake for the summer along with her small young cousin, Emma. And at first, it's beautiful and picturesque, but the lake creates its own foggy weather and all of the locals have warnings about how dark and deep it is. A body could get lost down there.

Maybe a body already has.

If you like the vibe of those old 70s gothics, you'll love Hahn's work. She basically writes the kid versions of them, and she does a great job. Some middle grade feels like you're being sat down and taught a lesson, but Hahn writes her kids in all of their bratty precocious glory, and I love that about her work. I honestly think the kids reading this will, too. Kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for. They know when they're being patronized.

This haunting, beautiful, creepy story is going to be living rent-free in my head for a while. Thank goodness I don't have any creepy lakes or creepy little girls in my backyard.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars

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