Ingo (Ingo, #1)

“Ingo’s a place that has many names, ” says Granny Carne. “You can call it Mer, Mare, or Meor…Earth and Ingo don’t mix, even though we live side by side. Earth and Ingo aren’t always friends…”Despite Granny Carne’s words, in Helen Dunmore’s fantastic fantasy Earth and Ingo do mix–with consequences. Ingo is set partially above ground in modern day Cornwall and partially below the surface of the water in Ingo.

Ingo features Sapphire Trewhella (also known as Saph or Sapphy). Sapphy takes after her f

“Ingo’s a place that has many names, ” says Granny Carne. “You can call it Mer, Mare, or Meor…Earth and Ingo don’t mix, even though we live side by side. Earth and Ingo aren’t always friends…”Despite Granny Carne’s words, in Helen Dunmore’s fantastic fantasy Earth and Ingo do mix–with consequences. Ingo is set partially above ground in modern day Cornwall and partially below the surface of the water in Ingo.Ingo features Sapphire Trewhella (also known as Saph or Sapphy). Sapphy takes after her father, Matthew Trewhella, in that she has always been drawn to the sea. She recalls, “Dad used to say that the sea doesn’t hate you and it doesn’t love you. It’s up to you to learn its ways and keep yourself safe.”It’s “Dad used to say” because her father has disappeared. His boat, the Peggy Gordon, was found without him in it, and he is presumed drowned. Sapphy, however, suspects her father’s disappearance has something to do with Ingo. She recalls her father singing, “I wish I was away in Ingo; Far across the briny sea, Sailing over deepest waters; Where love nor care never trouble me…”Her father’s disappearance certainly troubles her and causes trouble for her family. Her mother is forced to work all the time at her waitressing job and, consequently, her older brother Conor and Sapphy spend much time by themselves.When one day Sapphy cannot find Conor, she fears that he has disappeared just like her father. She heads out to the cove to look for him, and she finds him talking to Elvira the mermaid. This leads to her encounter with Faro the merman who takes her on a journey under the sea. On this journey, she lets go of Earth completely and becomes a part of Ingo.Sapphy and Conor are welcomed into Ingo because they each have a little Mer in them (long story that goes into family lore about the disappearance of a

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previous Matthew Trewhella), but Sapphy seems to have even a little more than her brother. Her draw to the sea becomes increasingly strong after she’s been a part of it. Not-too-subtle warning signals such as a new found taste for salting her water and consuming anchovies begin to alarm Conor while her mother appears largely ignorant of all goings on. With Conor’s help, Sapphy struggles to resist the pull of Ingo.Yet, despite her resistance, Sapphy continues to find Ingo and Faro seductive. When she’s in Ingo, nothing else seems to matter–not time, not Conor, not Earth, not humanity in general. When she’s not in Ingo but back on Earth, she finds so many troubles weighing her down–she feels in her bones that her father is still alive but he’s made no attempt to contact her, her mother has given up on her father coming back and is becoming romantically involved with a diver named Roger (a diver who’s getting increasingly close to encroaching upon Ingo), and her mother is dead set against her getting a dog (when Sapphy already has the perfect one picked out!).Ingo takes on the struggle between two worlds, between two types of people, between two ways of life. The struggle between Ingo and Earth has its parallel struggle within Sapphy’s family where the impetuousness of Sapphy and her father frequently clashes with the practical nature of Conor and her mother. This struggle comes to the fore in the latter part of Ingo when Roger decides he wants to dive in areas where, unbeknownst to him, he is not welcomed.Dunmore’s characters are flawed yet still developing and changing just as the world is flawed yet still developing and changing (the latter we have the privilege to participate in changing). Ingo is top-notch fantasy while also speaking to family dynamics, individual choices, willpower, self-discovery, and imagination.

Ingo–with its tagline “In a world without air all you breathe is adventure”–will likely be popular with middle grade fantasy fans of both genders. Ingo is Book One in a planned tetralogy–Ingo, The Tide Knot, The Deep, and The Crossing of Ingo (the final two are more difficult to attain from within the US since HarperCollins just published the US edition of The Tide Knot in January 2008). For more on the series immediately, visit Helen Dunmore’s site or Harper Collin’s Ingo site (including a video book trailer). The pull of Ingo is strong, who can resist?

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Category: Review

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