One of the reasons why I was so eager to read Helen Dunmore’s original Ingo series was the publication this January of the first in the new Ingo Chronicles, Stormswept. The cover alone was enough to make me know I had to read it. It is indeed a beautiful book on the outside, so what about its innards?
In Stormswept we are introduced to two new young siblings who are on the cusp of growing into themselves. Twin sisters Morveren and Jenna, almost 14 years old, live on an island that is joined to the Cornish mainland by a causeway that only emerges at lowtide. One day a great storm strikes the coast, bringing the islanders together to search for shipwrecked sailors. Morveren, however, discovers more than she bargains for when she comes across Malin, a boy, a little older than herself, who has been stranded on the rocks and is injured. It’s his tail that’s injured – Malin is a son of the Mer.
Morveren finds herself drawn to Malin and Ingo while her little brother Digory hears music coming from the waves. Jenna, though, is very much of Air and she resists, forming her own difficult relationship with the troubled Bran. It isn’t long before these worlds and interests collide and Malin is in danger.
The beginning of Stormswept is completely enchanting. The descriptions of the two girls racing across the causeway as the tides rise and the telling of the legend of the island’s formation which the islanders mark with their music… beautiful, magical prose draws you in to this world where sea and land meet.
The original Ingo series is a hard act to follow. While the quality of the writing of Stormswept certainly doesn’t disappoint there is something a little predictable about the story and this is much more of a novel for young teens (or younger) than the Ingo novels. Nevertheless, speaking as someone who probably isn’t a membership of the target readership but a big fan of YA fiction, there is much I enjoyed, especially the relationship between the twins as well as the seven-year-old Digory who I think is quite the scene-stealer. Malin, himself, is much less interesting than his parents (and Faro from the other novels for that matter), particularly his mother who has to overcome her greatest fears to be closer to her stranded son.
I hope that as the Chronicles continue we will see more of the dancing, singing Mer and learn more about their history, which is just hinted at here. I’m interested to see how the girls develop but more than anything I’m looking forward to returning to this enchanted island.