The ancient Greeks used to believe that the world was composed of four elements, earth, water, fire and air.
For Sapphy the battle is two-way rather than four, will the earth part of her nature ever manage to control the water elements that long to take her to sea? In Helen Dunmore’s second novel set in the world of Ingo, Sapphy continues the battle that her father lost in the first volume of the series.
With her father gone, her mother has found a new partner and moved the family from the cottage by the cove to the nearby but less hospitable St Pirans.
While her brother Conor is willing to give the new lifestyle a go, Sapphy is less willing. Her reluctance is not helped by the fact that her ‘friends’ in Ingo continue to call her to the Cornish sea.
However, they are not entirely benevolent spirits, danger lurks every time she goes to sea, from sharks and the risk that she become too comfortable in the water. The watery voices are at best ambivalent about the fate of the humans who inhabit the shoreline.
Among the watery beasts are those who would wish the sea to destroy the settlements of man and destruction of the Tide Knot ‘ the complex formation that ensures the tides fall as well as rise ‘ leads to disaster.
St Pirans is flooded and the pair are called upon to go to sea to help resolve the situation as Ingo dwellers realise that the demise of the tides is not all good news.
The Tide Knot is an engaging standalone read but it would benefit a little from having read the first volume as the back story to some of the relationships ‘ notably that between Conor and Elvira ‘ would be useful.
That’s a minor point, however, as the character of the land and its relationship with the sea are at the heart of a lyrical and enchanting book.