The Deep by Helen Dunmore

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The Deep by Helen Dunmore

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Written with a haunting and lyrical clarity that never impedes the urgency of the plot, this is the third instalment in one of those rare series you hope will never end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: May 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0007204915

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The Kraken is awake. A devastating flood has torn through both Air and Ingo, and yet the danger has only just begun. Mer legend has it that only those of mixed blood can defeat this terrible monster and so it falls to Sapphire, a human child with Mer blood, to journey to the Deep and face it. Stalwart brother Conor and best friend Faro refuse to let Sapphire face the Kraken alone. Together, they find the mother whale and with her as their guide, risk their lives to save the Mer.

This is the third in Helen Dunmore's classy series about Ingo, the world of the sea, and Air, the world of the earth, and about Sapphire, a girl of mixed blood who belongs to both and to neither. They're frighteningly good and written with a haunting and lyrical clarity that never impedes the urgency or excitement of the plot. There are few series of books that you hope will never end, but this is one of them. Dunmore takes old legends and magic and blends them with the wild landscape and real lives to create stories that are both poetic and blockbusting and that resonate with profound respect for both people and nature. In Dunmore's vision, all things are inter-related - feelings, people, events, lives - and the world is delicately balanced and vulnerable to abuse. Nothing is as simple as it first appears.

When I read these books, I am always put in mind of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, one of the earliest books to propound the idea of a web of life on whose balance we all depend, and as lyrically written. No one species can hold dominion forever, and I am looking forward to seeing where this Gaia-inspired series about Ingo takes us. The Deep ends with Granny Carne telling Sapphire that the future depends on her mixed blood. The balance depends on those with the capacity to create a bridge between Air and Ingo.

There are some marvellous scenes. When Sapphire, Conor and Faro dive down to the Deep with the whale, you find yourself surrounded by menace and fear and confusion. The Kraken is wonderfully drawn and not the monster you expect - he is a twisted and evil creature indeed, but with a sad history of his own, very reminiscent of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings. Politics abound in the world of the Mer, just as they do in the human world. And jealousy is everywhere too, including inside Sapphire's heart and it attacks her in both the worlds she inhabits.

I can't recommend these books highly enough. They're absolutely beautiful. It's difficult to hug a whale, but this is how you try:

All you can do is stretch out your arms as far as you can, and touch as much of her rough, wrinkled skin as you can, and hope that she understands that it means you'll never forget she saved your life, and you wish her daughter hadn't gone to the bottom of the world and left her alone, and you wish you didn't have to say goodbye.

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

While The Deep stands up by itself, it would be better to read Ingo and The Tide Knot first. Frances Hardinge's Verdigris Deep also combines family stresses with magic fantasy, while Katherine Langrish's Troll series asks children to show courage in the face of supernatural danger.

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Buy The Deep by Helen Dunmore at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Deep by Helen Dunmore at


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ashanti_lorraine said:

Is there going to be a fourth book? I know that Ingo was supposed to be a trilogy, but it would seem to me that The Deep doesn't quite finish off the series.

Other than that, I absolutely loved this book. I'm a huge fan of Ingo so if there is a fourth bookthen all the better for me.

Jill replied:

No, although I keep seeing "trilogy" in reviews too, the series is definitely not finished. More to come, for sure, thank heavens!

stargirl_7 said:

i thought these books were amazing and thought it keeps saying trilogy there has to be more i want to read about their fathers choice and the crossing of ingo it will be even better than the others hopefully there will be more

Frosted said:

I absolutely adored the Ingo trilogy! I hardly put the books down after reading the first pages.

The Deep doesn't seem to be the end of Saphire's amazing adventures, so I prayer that there is more to come soon with the Crossing Of Ingo.

miisymermaid said:

I love the Ingo series, so glad there's more to come, haven't read "The Deep" yet, mum bought that for me for when we are on the plane to Fiji.

angelpuss_9 said:

If there was one series that I have been so completely immersed in it was the Ingo series. I took one day to read Ingo, and afterwards you're left with this (excuse the analogy) underwater feeling. Like your life isn't real and there's so much magic everywhere that you haven't discovered yet. Thanks Helen!

Lance said:

I haven't read the deep but I'm fighting tooth and claw to get my hands on it!

I stayed up till 3am to finish the tide know and even though I was tired it was SO worth it! I can't wait to finally read it!

I don't know what my life would be like without these books!

I think I'm in love! Lol