Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story

Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story

by Mary Downing Hahn


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547076454
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/04/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 187
Sales rank: 60,662
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Mary Downing Hahn, a former children’s librarian, is the award-winning author of many popular ghost stories. Her work has won more than fifty child-voted state awards.  An avid reader, traveler, and all-around arts lover, Ms. Hahn lives in Columbia, Maryland. Visit her online at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

One rainy Saturday in March, I opened a box of books Mom had brought home from Grandmother’s house. Although Grandmother had been dead for five years, no one had unpacked any of the boxes. They’d been sitting in the attic collecting dust, their contents a mystery. Hoping to find something to read, I started pulling out books—Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Misty of Chincoteague, and at least a dozen Nancy Drew mysteries. At thirteen, I’d long since outgrown Carolyn Keene’s plots, but I opened one at random, The Bungalow Mystery, and began flipping the pages, laughing at the corny descriptions: “Nancy, blue eyed, and with reddish glints in her blonde hair,” “Helen Corning, dark-haired and petite.” The two girls were in a small motorboat on a lake, a storm was coming, and soon they were in big trouble. Just as I was actually getting interested in the plot, I turned a page and found a real-life mystery: a torn photograph.

   In faded shades of yellow and green, Mom’s older sister, Dulcie, grinned into the camera, her teeth big in her narrow face, her hair a tangled mop of tawny curls. Next to her, Mom looked off to the side, her long straight hair drawn back in a ponytail, eyes downcast, unsmiling, clearly unhappy. Dulcie was about eleven, I guessed, and Mom nine or ten. Behind the girls was water—a lake, I assumed. Pressed against Dulcie’s other side, I could make out an arm, a shoulder, and a few strands of long hair, just enough for me to know it was a girl. The rest of her had been torn away. I turned the photo over, hoping to find the girl’s name written on the back.

   There was Grandmother’s neat, schoolteacherly handwriting: “Gull Cottage, 1977. Dulcie, Claire, and T—.” Like her face, the rest of the girl’s name was missing.

   Alone in the attic, I stared at the arm and shoulder. T . . . Tanya, Tonia, Traci, Terri. So many T names to choose from. Which was hers?

   Putting the photo back in the book, I ran downstairs to ask Mom about Gull Cottage, the lake, and the girl. I found her in the kitchen chopping onions for the vegetable casserole she was fixing for dinner. Standing there, head down, she wore the same expression caught in the photograph. Not surprising. She always looked sad, even when she wasn’t.

   I waved the photograph. “Look what I found—a picture of you and Dulcie at a lake somewhere. And another girl—” Mom snatched the photograph, her face suddenly flushed. “Where did you get this?” She acted as if I’d been rummaging through her purse, her bureau drawers, the medicine cabinet, looking for secrets.

   I backed away, startled by her reaction. “It fell out of your old book.” I held up The Bungalow Mystery.

   “It was in one of those boxes you brought back from Grandmother’s house.

   Look, here’s your name.” I pointed to “Claire Thornton, 1977,” written in a childish scrawl on the inside cover. Mom stared at the photograph as if I hadn’t spoken. “I was sure I’d thrown this away.” “Who’s the girl sitting beside Dulcie?” I asked, unable to restrain my curiosity.

   “Me,” Mom said without raising her eyes. “No, I mean on the other side, where it’s ripped.” I pointed. “See her arm and her shoulder? On the back Grandmother wrote T, but the rest of her name was on the torn part.” “I don’t remember another girl.” Mom gripped the photo and shook her head.

   “At the lake, it was always Dulcie and me, just Dulcie and me. Nobody else.” At that moment, Dad came through the kitchen door and set a grocery bag on the counter. “Salad stuff,” he said.

   “They didn’t have field greens, so I got baby spinach.” “Fine,” Mom said.

   “What are you looking at?” Reaching over Mom’s shoulder, he took the photo.

   “Little Claire and little Dulcie,” he said with a smile. “What a cute pair you were. Too bad the picture’s torn—and the color’s so awful.” Mom reached for the photo, but Dad wasn’t finished with it. “This must have been taken in Maine,” he said. “At your cottage.” “Yes.” She reached for the picture again.

   “Hey, look at this.” Dad handed her the photo. “There’s another girl sitting next to Dulcie. See her arm? Who was she?” “This picture was taken thirty years ago,” she said sharply. “I have no idea who that girl was.” Slipping the photo into her pocket, Mom went to the kitchen window and gazed at the backyard, which was just beginning to show green after the winter. With her back to us, she said, “Soon it’ll be time to mulch the garden.” It was her way of ending the conversation, but Dad chose to ignore the hint. “Your mom and aunt spent their vacations at Sycamore Lake when they were little,” he told mee. “They still own Gull Cottage, but neither one of them has gone there since they were kids.” “Why not?” I asked. “A cottage on a lake . . . I’d love to see it.” “Don’t be ridiculous,” Mom said, her back still turned. “The place has probably fallen to pieces by now.” “Why not drive up and take a look this summer?” Dad asked her. “Ali would love Maine—great hiking, swimming, canoeing, and fishing. Lobster, clams, blueberries. We haven’t had a real vacation for years.” Mom spun around to face us, her body tense, her voice shrill. “I hated going there when I was little. The lake was cold and deep and scary, and the shore was so stony, it hurt my feet. It rained for weeks straight. Thunder, lightning, wind, fog. The gnats and mosquitoes were vicious. Dulcie and I fought all the time. I never want to see Gull Cottage again. And neither does Dulcie.” “Oh, come on, Claire,” Dad said, laughing, “it couldn’t have been that bad.” “You don’t know anything about it.” Pressing her fingers to her temples, a sure sign of a headache, she left the room and ran upstairs. A second later, the bedroom door slammed shut.

   I turned to Dad, frustrated. “What’s the matter with Mom now?” “Go easy on her, Ali. You know how easily she gets upset.” He sighed and headed toward the stairs. “Don’t you have a math test tomorrow?” Alone in the kitchen, I opened my textbook and stared at a page of algebra problems. Go easy on your mother, don’t upset her, she can’t handle it. How often had I heard that? My mother was fragile. She worried, she cried easily, sometimes she stayed in bed for days with migraine headaches. From the room overhead I could hear the drone of my parents’ voices. Mom’s voice rose sharp and tearful. “I’ve told you before, I don’t want to talk about it.” Dad mumbled something. I closed my algebra book and retreated to the family room. With the TV on, I couldn’t hear them arguing, but even a rerun of Law and Order couldn’t keep me from thinking about the photo. I certainly hadn’t meant to start a scene—I just wanted to know who “T” was.

I never saw the photo again. No one mentioned Sycamore Lake or Gull Cottage.

   But the more we didn’t talk about it, the more I thought about it. Who was “T”? Why didn’t Mom remember her? If Grandmother had still been alive, I swear I would’ve called her and asked who “T” was.

   I thought about calling Dulcie and asking her, but if Mom saw the number on the phone bill, she’d want to know why I’d called my aunt and what we’d talked about. Mom had “issues with Dulcie”—her words. They couldn’t be together for more than a few hours without arguing.

   Politics, child raising, marriage—they didn’t agree on anything. Maybe because I couldn’t talk to anyone about the photo, I began dreaming about “T” and the lake. Week after week, the same dream, over and over and over again. I’m walking along the shore of Sycamore Lake in a thick fog. I see a girl coming toward me. I can’t make out her face, but somehow I know it’s “T.” She seems to know me, too. She says, “You’d better do something about this.” She points at three girls in a canoe, paddling out onto the lake. One is my mother, one is Dulcie, and I think the third girl is “T.” But how can that be? Isn’t she standing a few feet away? No, she’s gone. The canoe vanishes into the fog. That’s when I always woke up. Scared, shivering—the way people feel when they say, “Someone’s walking on my grave.” I wanted to tell Mom about the dream, but I knew it would upset her. Although Dad didn’t agree, it seemed to me she’d been more nervous and anxious since I’d shown her the photograph. She started seeing her therapist again, not once but twice a week. Her headaches came more frequently, and she spent days lying on the couch reading poetry, mainly Emily Dickinson—not a good choice in my opinion for a depressed person.

   Dickinson’s poems were full of things I didn’t quite understand but frightened me. Her mind was haunted, I thought, by death and sorrow and uncertainty.

   Sometimes I suspected that’s why Mom liked Dickinson—they were kindred spirits.

Except for my dream and Mom’s days on the couch, life went on pretty much as usual. Dad taught his math classes at the university, graded exams, gave lectures, and complained about lazy students and boring faculty meetings—standard stuff. I got involved in painting scenery for the school play and doing things with my friends. As the weather warmed, Mom cheered up a bit and went to work in her flower garden, mulching, transplanting, choosing new plants at the nursery—the best therapy, she claimed.

   And then Dulcie paid us an unexpected visit and threw everything off track.

   Copyright © 2007 by Mary Downing Hahn.

   Reprinted by permission of Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Stormy weather, a deep, dark lake, and many unanswered questions (keep) mystery and ghost story fans turning pages right up to the end."—

Eerie, suspenseful Booklist, ALA

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Deep and Dark and Dangerous 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 805 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book ever. My friend started reading it and she said it was amazing so i bought it and i was hooked right away. i finished it in one day! i can't wait to read more of her books[=
jessies_mom More than 1 year ago
My daughter likes scary stories so when we went to her school's book fair I picked this book for her. This is the first real ghost story that she read and she loved it. I read it first to see if it's age appropriate and I loved it too. Now she's begging me to get her more books by Mary Downing Hahn. Today I purchased "The doll in the garden". Can't wait to read it myself :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
I looked at this book at my school library. I was fascinated when I picked it up because the cover was spooky and the back of the book just inerested me and I wanted to read more. So I checked it out and I read it and I could not stop reading it. Soon I became hooked and read it every second I could. I even read it during classes. I thought I was right there in the book watching this happen. I just couldnt beleive everything that was happening. I mean who knew that Sissy was actually....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ohh myyy goosshh!! this is my most favorite book to read!!!!!............ its easy and good for a good chapter book starter! its about a girl named ali who finds a photograph in her moms suitcase. nuthing weird about that right? Well actually the photograph was torn and all you could see was her mom, aunt and somebodys arm. when she flipped it to the back she say her aunts name, her moms name, and a t. she gets invited to go to Gull cottage (where the photo was taken) with her aunt and cousin. then one day her and emma (her cousin) meet a girl named Sissy. She was not scared of anything, she could jump in the water when it was freezing and all she ever wore was her faded pink bathingsuit. Sissy was mean and she turned emma into a little brat. Ali starts thinking something is up when emma starts having dreams about bones coming to get her, her aunts pitures get destrod by someone, and her aut is always mad and depressed. She sets out and finds out who sissy really is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I can't wait for the author to write more spooky tales. It had me hooked from page one. I couldn't put it down for a minute.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This amazing story by Mary Downing Hahn is sure to keep readers on their toes. I believe that this is to entertain readers around the age of 11-25. This book is so great you will want to read it repeatedly, trust me I have! Deep and Dark and Dangerous is about a girl, Ali, who decides to spend the summer at a lake that her mom and aunt used to go to every summer when they were little. She stays there in the old cabin that has been restored with her, Aunt Dulcie and her little cousin, Emma. Her aunt is an artist so while they are there Ali has to watch her cousin, Emma. Ali's mom was completely against Ali going to the lake; she said that it was cold, rainy, and depressing. Ali however, decided she wanted to get away from her regular boring life and do something interesting. Interesting it was. While at the lake they meet a nasty little girl named Sissy; Desperate for a friend Emma will do anything to please Sissy, which causes a lot of trouble! They get into a lot of mischief, and Ali senses something extremely strange about Sissy, but what is it? You will have to read to find out! Deep and Dark and Dangerous seems to exceed the expectations of readers by flooring them with great apprehension. In my opinion, it is better than all other suspenseful books I have read! Deep and Dark and Dangerous is a 4.5 star suspenseful book that will keep readers on their toes. The storyline is unlike any other and it all together seems to top all others. Mary Downing Hahn did an excellent job! This is a fantastic story that you do not want to miss!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I first picked this book from my school reading list,I thought it would be another ghost story that's just one you'd like to quit on. Later, I realized it was a rare ghost story that kept you on the edge of your seat not wanting to put it down. I may be only 11 years old, but this is a story that I feel with thrive among my electronic/ new generation. This is a story I recommend for even older folks (no offense). Fantastic and unique writting makes the story all the better. And for you people who might get scared by this stuff, it's just creepy BTW. Hope this helped! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
it was so thrilling i couldnt wait to turn the next pag i suggest reading this book if you havent youll <3 it so go on read it dont be scared but it is a little scary so beware.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really takes on voice at chapter 12. It made me want to leave the hallway lights on and look behind me every couple of minutes because im sure im watched by ghostly eyes.
fluffy87 More than 1 year ago
sliss More than 1 year ago
My daughter who is 7 read this and finished it in one night. She loved t.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is very interesting. Mary Downing Hahn is a very good author and she keeps you thinking. Sissy is a very cute, annoying character that always has something up her sleeve. I really recommened this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book so much! A close friend of mine did a report on this book in 5th grade. Finished it in two nighs!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spooky and unexpecting. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome read! I have to admit this book gives me the chills!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i have ever read! Every chapter you read you just want to keep reading! I couldnt put it down! You say your going to stop but you just keep reading and reading! I highly recommend this book to all ages i read it about 3 years ago and its still the best book i have ever read and i probably wont find a better book then this one! READ THE BOOK!!!:)
IsabellaLH More than 1 year ago
I think the best part of this awsome book is when you find out what Sissy realy is.This is a very freaky,scary part of this book! I can`t wait to read alot more great books by Mary Downing Hahn!
dannie-the-reader More than 1 year ago
I read it and felt like I was standing next to Ali.The book was full of suprieses at every turn.I GIVE IT TWO THUMDS UP!
HUGGYBUGGY More than 1 year ago
it was VERY hard putting the book down! i absolutely loved it! the story was great and i loved the ending. the relationships towards the end made me want to cry. it was so sweet and sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deep Dark And Dangerous

Deep Dark And Dangerous is an awesome book! When you read this book it might be a little scary. It is about a girl named Ali goes to here mom and Aunt old lake, and there is this ghost named sissy, then Ali finds this old photo theirs someone missing and there name starts with a T could that be sissy?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this book was the best book i have ever read it sends shivers down your spine.
my libarian suggested it for me and i loved it im going to buy it someday.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was the best book i ever read. i recommend deep and dark and dangerous because it keeps you reading to the very end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book and The old willis place are my favorite books. Those are the only 2 books i've read by hahn, and i'm trying to find more. It's amazing how hahn can keep you in suspense by not knowing whats coming next. You can get a picture in your head in every part of the book. You should definately read this book. I promise you you'll love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book because it made me want to keep on reading and i loved how sissy was a mean character she would even get me mad at her for what she had done in the ending she was nicer i think this was the best book i ever read!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alright this is the first Mary Dowing Hahn book I have ever read. It is sooooooooooooo amazing. It is the best book I have ever read other than OLd Willis Place. If you want to read this book, read it.