Friday, March 10, 2006

Review: Ingo

This is an early review.

Helen Dunmore's Ingo, the first in a trilogy, won't be out in the States until August 1, but I loved it and can't help myself.

Have you ever enjoyed a book so much you've read it slowly? That was my experience with Ingo. (Michele at Scholar's Blog had the opposite experience. She raced through 300 pages in a few hours! Either way, it is a compelling read--a book impossible to resist.) Ingo drew me in as the tide does its protagonist, Sapphire Trewhella.

Sapphire (Sapphy) lives in Cornwall, on a hidden cove, with her older brother, Connor, and her parents. Sapphy's father is drawn to the sea and sings of Ingo to his children. Connor and Sapphy know the sea, their cove, and the tides like a suburban kid knows the rhythm of her own street. One day their father disappears on his boat without a trace.

Matthew Trewhella's disappearance upsets daily life for Sapphy and her family. Mom has to work out of town and Connor makes a new friend, a girl from the sea. When Connor, ordinarily the best big brother you could ever have, abandons his sister to meet his new friend, Sapphy follows him into the ocean. There she meets Faro, a Merperson and brother of Connor's new friend, Elvira. Sapphy is drawn into the world of Mer, losing all sense of earth and earthly time.

Connor brings Sapphy out of the sea and she struggles with the impulse to return. It turns out that Sapphy and Connor have some Mer in them, each to varying degrees. Sapphy is ready to give up earth and to become one with the Mer, but Connor, more grounded in earth, holds her fast.

As Ingo is the first in a trilogy, we don't learn everything about the Mer, their world, Sapphy and Connor's relationship to Ingo, and what happened to Mr. Trewhella. I know I'll be waiting anxiously for books two and three to find out.

The beauty of Ingo is in Dunmore's lyrical prose and the atmosphere she creates. You can feel the pull of the tide and the song of the Mer when you read the novel. Sapphire's struggle to resist their pull is tangible and, as a reader, you hope she succeeds.

Put Ingo on your "to order," "to buy," or "to check out" list for Fall. Thanks to Michele of Scholar's Blog who sent me this one.