Saturday, October 13, 2007
Where's Your Daddy?
You know those sort of blog attacks that kidlit bloggers sometimes get together and do to try to bring attention to particular books and authors? Maybe they work.
Back in August, Kelly at Big A, little a did a series of "Under the Radar" posts on the Ingo books by Helen Dunmore. I happened to own a copy of the second Ingo book, The Tide Knot, which I'd been putting off reading because I didn't care for the cover, and it looked like an ocean book. I came of age in a land-locked state. I'm not exactly drawn to the sea. But Kelly's posts gave me a nudge, and I read the book a week or two ago.
The Tide Knot is one of the most calming books I can recall reading. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but by calming I don't mean dull and boring. I mean it's an atmospheric book. Otherworldly. And being pulled out of your own frantic life into another world can be calming, even if that other world involves what sounded to me very much like a tsunami.
There's a lot of nature talk in The Tide Knot. You've got your Air/ Land people, and you've got your Water/Ocean people. As often happens with fantasy books that involve nature, there's a bit of mystical mumbo jumbo, which I usually find very trying. People have land power or water power, for instance. And in a few places Dunmore teeters on the brink of giving us eco-lessons. But the writing is so very fine and elegant (and then there is that atmosphere again) that the bits I normally wouldn't have cared for just rolled off my back.
The Tide Knot is the second in a series, but I didn't have any trouble reading it. It's clear that some things have happened before the events in this particular book. Dad has disappeared, for instance. But we're brought up to speed with far less awkwardness than you usually find in serial books. In many ways, some might argue that this is a traditional broken family story, but with some twists. The twists are really good ones, though.
The Tide Knot made me think of Victory by Susan Cooper. The actual story may be familiar, but the writing is so good it doesn't matter.
I'm considering buying Ingo, the first book in the series, and after I've read it giving both books to some family members who own a summer house on the coast in Maine. I think it would be fun to keep the books at the ocean house to read when it rains or to have available for guests.
I don't think it would be all that disturbing to read about a really wicked storm when you're going to have to sleep that night right next to the sea.