The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore

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The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A fittingly beautiful end to Dunmore's wonderful Ingo quartet. It continues the theme of the world as entity, not as resource and it never puts a foot wrong.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2009
Publisher: HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks
ISBN: 0007270267

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The conch has sounded.

The Call races through Ingo, into every underwater cave, through the hulls of sunken treasure ships, searching out the Mer who are ready to make the Crossing of Ingo.

Sapphire and Conor hear it too, and they feel its power just as strongly as any Mer. They too must make the crossing, go to the bottom of the world, and not only because the call of the conch is irresistible. Saldowr has said that their crossing is the most important of all. No one of human blood has ever been called before, and if they succeed, Sapphire and Conor will enable the healing of Ingo and Air to begin. They have friends and supporters; Saldowr the teacher, their Mer friends Faro and Elvira, their father, now living in Ingo. The dolphins and the whales understand and will help.

But there are also enemies. Ervys has rallied his troops and is inspiring separatist fear and hate among them. Some Mer have even taken up weapons. Ervys has even turned the sharks from their duty, and they lay in wait for Sapphire and Conor, hoping to prevent their journey from even beginning. But begin it does, and all we can do is read breathlessly, and pray they succeed.

The Crossing of Ingo is just as beautiful as the first three books in this wonderful quartet. When you finish reading, it will be the only word in your mind, I promise. Beautiful. Poet Helen Dunmore brings her insight and her lyricism to bear, crafting prose that is intensely, intensely romantic. It almost feels tactile. Her vision of Ingo comes to life in elegant, delicate strokes while Sapphy's inner life seems as real as your own. Interconnectedness is its major theme. In the narrative, Dunmore blends kitchen sink realism with dreamy fantasy as Sapphy's family dynamics intertwine with the world under the sea. Underlying this plotting and reinforcing it are ecological themes of a web of life, in which no part can flourish if another part falters. Overlayering it, Sappy's coming of age story mirrors the maturity of understanding to which we must all come if we are to preserve the Earth we've been given.

I can't quite believe Ingo is over. Like Narnia, it's ended at a new beginning that inspires thoughts and helps to crystallise and shape personal beliefs and values. But nevertheless, it's still over, and I wish it weren't. These are books that will be read for generations - and perhaps in years to come their Gaia-inspired themes will take on new and different resonance. They have everything - family dynamics, the nature of love, coming of age, resolution of conflict, world as entity, not resource. And they are written with great beauty, but more than that, they are written with an unmistakeable voice and a love of words. As ever, the best parts are Sapphire's interactions with the dolphins and whales. And this is what the whales have to say...

Do you know the humans who power the ships that hunt us? We thought perhaps you might speak for us. Remember us when you are back among humans.


My thanks to the nice people at Harper Collins for sending the book.

Selina Penaluna by Jan Page is another beautiful book featuring a girl who feels drawn to the sea.

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Buy The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Crossing of Ingo by Helen Dunmore at


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John Dyson said:

I think it is the best book I have ever read plus Helen Dunmore writes it as if she were a child she doesn’t say ‘she’ or he but she makes it sound like she’s the character