Deep and Dark and Dangerous

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Deep and Dark and Dangerous
Author Mary Downing Hahn
Country United States
Language English
Published 2007, Clarion Books
Media type Print, ebook, audiobook
Pages 187 pages
ISBN 0618665455

Deep and Dark and Dangerous is a 2007 Mystery Horror novel written by Mary Downing Hahn. It was first published on May 21, 2007 through Clarion Books and follows a young girl who tries to investigate a torn photograph but gets wrapped up in a larger mystery.


The book is about thirteen-year-old Alison O'Dywer who finds a photograph in her attic. The photograph is of her mother Claire, her Aunt Dulcie, and a third girl who had been supposedly torn out of the picture. When Ali takes a surprise vacation to the lake she meets a short-tempered, nasty little girl named Sissy. As Ali gets more ill-tempered with Sissy she tries to figure out Sissy's past but later she finds a very terrifying surprise; Sissy had no home and had died when her mother and aunt were little girls and that they also had interacted with them. At the end of the story, Ali and Emma (Emma is her cousin she is baby sitting) find out the truth; Teresa had been the same little girl in the photograph and the last summer that Ali's mom and aunt had been there Teresa had died in a terrible accident; she had drowned in the lake. Sissy then starts telling Ali that she wants to be buried and wants people to bring her flowers and for them to cry so she will be able to pass on to her future life.

Ali takes her five-year-old cousin who she is babysitting, Emma, to the lake to swim. While there, they meet a mean and very rude girl named Sissy. Emma becomes influenced by Sissy and wants to be like her. She even talks rudely to Ali and almost drowns Emma in the lake—Ali gets into an argument with Sissy and Sissy leaves. Emma runs crying to her mother, saying Ali was mean to her and called her names. Ali gets angry and tells Dulcie she is lying and Emma says Ali is so mean, nobody would want her. Dulcie and Emma argue until Dulcie tells Emma she can not play with Sissy anymore, resulting with Emma throwing a temper-tantrum and Dulcie bringing her to her room to take a nap.


  • Ali: A 13-year-old girl who loves Emma, [but hates Sissy]. Dulcie's Niece. She is the main protagonist character.
  • Emma: A 5-year-old girl who is the sweetest thing you will ever meet. Due to the fact that her mother is an artist, they live in New York, and she has not gone to school yet, the only people she is around all day is adults. Therefore, she is lonely and has no friends. When she is introduced to Sissy, who is now her one and only friend, she will do anything to keep Sissy liking her.
  • Sissy: Sassy, mean, unsafe, unfair, spiteful, mysterious, rude, and bratty. She has a sharpness in her eyes and a mean set to her mouth. Sissy is the main antagonist character.
  • Claire: The mother to Ali and the aunt to Emma. She cries and worries a lot, and gets nervous and anxious frequently. Her coping mechanisms consist of planting and reading poetry; her favorite author is Emily Dickinson.
  • Dulcie: The mother to Emma and the aunt to Ali. She has a tall, skinny figure with log tawny curls. Her favorite things in life is her job, being an artist, and her daughter.
  • Pete: Ali's dad and Emma's uncle. He is an understanding and reasonable caregiver.
  • Erin: Ice Cream Shop Worker.
  • Jeanine: Erin's mom, friend of Dulcie and Claire
  • Ms. Trent: Sissy's older sister's friend that Ali goes to when lost or scared
  • Teresa: Claire and Dulcie's friend that "drowned"


Critical reception was mostly positive.[1][2] Kirkus Reviews gave the book a positive review and stated that the book had a "satisfyingly chilly but calm resolution".[3] Kliatt also gave Deep and Dark and Dangerous a positive rating, commenting that the book's foreshadowing "is a bit heavy-handed" but overall writing that it "provides just the right amount of shiver for this age group without scarring them for life."[4] The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books remarked that while the book did not live up to some of Hahn's previous works such as Wait Till Helen Comes, it had "a compact and approachable shiveriness that would make it an easygoing vacation read."[5]


  • Edgar Award for Young Adult (2008, nominated)[6]
  • Maud Hart Lovelace book award (2011, won)[7]


  1. ^ "Deep and Dark and Dangerous (review)". Booklist. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "Deep and Dark and Dangerous (REVIEW)". School Library Journal. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Deep and Dark and Dangerous (review)". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  4. ^ Hoy, Sherry (November 1, 2008). "Hahn, Mary Downing. Deep and dark and dangerous.(Young adult review)". Kliatt (subscription required). Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  5. ^ Stevenson, Deborah (2007). "Deep and Dark and Dangerous: A Ghost Story (review)". Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. 61 (1): 28. doi:10.1353/bcc.2007.0614. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  6. ^ "Edgar nominees.(Edgar Allan Poe Awards)(Brief article)". Bookmarks (subscription required). March 1, 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  7. ^ "'Deep and Dark' wins Lovelace book award Jones signing 'Baseball Guy' at fundraiser Eric Dregni to sign 'Vikings in the Attic'". Twin Cities. Retrieved 13 May 2014.