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Bog Child

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  2,926 Ratings  ·  462 Reviews
DIGGING FOR PEAT in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks like she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him—his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into acting as courier to God knows w ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 9th 2008 by David Fickling Books (first published February 7th 2008)
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Pipkia Bog Child is arguably her most well known and probably the one that is most like A Monster Calls in tone. And it's bloody brilliant. So I'd start…moreBog Child is arguably her most well known and probably the one that is most like A Monster Calls in tone. And it's bloody brilliant. So I'd start there.(less)

Community Reviews

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Ah Jesus. This really is a beautiful, heart-wrenching story. My one piece of advice? If you do the audio thing, then that's how to do this one. Sile Bermingham is the perfect reader, her soft lilt a gorgeous accompaniment not just to the lyrical prose that will make you shudder when it's read aloud, but delivering on the Irish accent transporting you to a very particular time and place.

It should have been the Irish history content of this novel that brought it to my attention (more on that late
Nov 04, 2016 Ivan rated it it was amazing
After A Monster call by Patrick Ness which was based on concept by Siobhan Dowd I was intrigued to read more from both authors. Ness was first and now that I'm finished with most of his stuff it's Dowd's turn.

About the book there isn't much to say (without revealing too much) except that this is YA coming of age story set in turbulent times in which main character is faced with some difficult moral and ethical decisions.It can be hard and sad at times but ultimately wonderful and very well writt
Jan 23, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is yet another book that made me wish Goodreads allowed 1/2 stars. I ultimately went with 3 instead of 4 because although I enjoyed it, and like some elements of the story very much, the writing is a bit simplistic and the plot is predictable at times.

Still, I'm very glad that I happened across this book in a used bookstore, because for once an impulse buy paid off (I usually have much better luck when I select books on Goodreads than when I go by the blurbs on back covers). It has a powerf
Nov 24, 2008 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Masterful! Dowd weaves multiple plot lines throughout this compelling story and there is never a moment when the pace falters or the story loses the way. Fergus McCan and his vague Uncle Tally cross the border that divides Ireland to dig peat at a construction site. They discover the body of what appears to be a child and the police of both side's authorities appear on the scene only to learn that the body is ancient. Mel, the young girl, appears at intervals in Fergus' dreams, slowly revealing ...more
Aug 08, 2011 Lan rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
A personal favourite of mine. I found the book in my high school library and was impelled to read it due to the interesting premise. I have a very strong historical calling, and historical fiction is a nice slip between reality and fantasy.

Fergus is a graduating high school student who crosses the border with his Uncle Tally to swipe some peat in the early morning hours and stumbles upon the body of what appears to be a young girl of seven or eight. At his insistence, his uncle goes back to the
Jun 13, 2015 Josephine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a superb bit of writing! When I was a teenager there was very little in the way of books aimed specifically at that age group, now there are some fantastic books that cross over the boundary and are great for adults too. Bog child is about a body of a young girl found in a peat bog in Ireland by an eighteen year old boy called Fergus. Fergus is out cutting turf to sell with his uncle Tally when they see the body. The investigation into the identity of the child and how she came to be in ...more
Apr 16, 2012 Holly rated it really liked it
This is my favorite Siobhan Dowd book and it's a terrible shame that Ms. Dowd lost her fight with cancer before its publication.

The book's main character, Fergus McCann, deals with some weighty subjects - the Troubles, a brother in prison and on a hunger strike, an uncle that's not who Fergus thought he was, exams that will determine his future, falling in love, and a mysterious body, found preserved in the peat moss bog outside of town. Along the way he makes friends with a Welsh soldier statio
Aug 26, 2016 Dalibor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Ovo ide u favorite . God , kako je ovo bilo lijepo
Jul 03, 2010 Erin rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2017 Triinu rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-loetud
Tutvustuse leiab blogist
Dowd is an author whose work I’ve been planning to read for a while. But being the sort of reader who seeks out stories based on the feeling they’re likely to evoke, the timing never quite seemed right. It was a conversation between work colleagues about the unrest in Ireland in the late 1970s which left me wanting to understand more about the conflict. Suddenly, it was the perfect time to read Bog Child, a stunning and evocative novel which is a late addition to my ‘favourites of 2014’ list.

On a study break from preparing for his A-level exams, Fergus accompanies his uncle Tally on a peat-digging trip when they find the body in the bog. Police argue about which side of Ireland's north-south border the body is on and therefore who is responsible for handling this apparent murder case--but then the body is determined to be much older than any open murder case, possibly Iron Age. Fergus gets deeply involved in trying to unravel the mystery of who the girl was (as well as getting deepl ...more
Mixed feelings on this one. I really enjoyed the setting of Ireland during the Troubles and hunger strikes of the early 1980s. A great deal of the story was gripping, tense and interesting. Fergus is a great character that really stayed constant and true throughout the story-which I appreciated. It was a book I had a difficult time putting down.
But...there were a few things that bothered me. Mostly there were some believability issues. For example, (and this may seem a petty problem with the sto
Sep 06, 2009 Angie rated it it was ok
1)I think a better understanding of the political turmoil in Ireland's history would have improved appreciation of this one. Sometimes I was just guessing. Most of what I know is just vague memories of news reports when I was a kid. And that Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan movie.

2)Though I did hear a lot about the LONG history of oppression in Ireland when I was there this summer.

2)I totally don't get the relevance of the bog child. This was mainly about Fergus. I mean, I guess he FOUND her while out with
Dec 13, 2008 Karlan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Set during the time when Irish prisoners were starving themselves, the trouble faced by families whose loved ones were involved is portrayed in a moving style. The discovery of a mummified body by a boy whose brother is starving himself leads the boy to mature and take action to help his brother. The characters are well developed and the romance will pull in many readers. A beautiful achievement.
Aug 20, 2016 Linley rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Y9-11 for a different view on the world. Readers in NZ will have little in common with Fergus, and may find it a bit strange that his life could be so dominated by religion and politics so I'd recommend a bit of research about 'The Troubles' alongside this book.

Ireland and Northern Ireland are beautiful and have a long, deep history that isn't always as charming as the people can be. On top of that, it rains a lot! 5 stars and thanks to the author.
Jun 17, 2016 Alicia rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016
I enjoyed the Irish history of the Troubles and the present day story. However, I found the bog child thread of the story awkward and rather trite. The need to draw these parallels between the two eras felt forced and way too heavy-handed. And really, Fergus suggests the Pompeii thing and the professional archeologists are like, why didn't we think of that brilliant explanation? That's realistic...
Rebecca McNutt
May 21, 2016 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
This book is a step away from the many recent horror novels I've been reading. Bog Child is a powerful novel that really inspires and takes hold of its readers, and it's a very creative one, too.
Jan 29, 2009 Aaron rated it liked it
Set in 1981, this novel brings modern readers back into the center of the discord over Northern Ireland. Eighteen-year-old Fergus McCann lives with his family in the northern counties, which are held by Great Britain. The family is embroiled in the fight for independence against the foreign holders. In fact, his brother is currently in prison and has started a hunger strike, and he is not alone. There are other men in the prison doing the same, and some have even died from it. This leaves Fergus ...more
Apr 17, 2011 Jen rated it liked it
Lit. class review:

Bog Child. Siobhan Dowd. 322 pages. David Fickling Books 2008.

This one from the 2009 top ten list caught my eye because I was in Ireland last summer and my friend and I went to the “bog bodies” exhibit in Dublin. A review I read said Dowd combines a story of a girl from the Iron Age with stories of the Troubles in Northern Ireland “into a successful, even riveting, work of fiction”. I’m intrigued.

p. 109 – The main character of the story is Fergus, who lives in Northern Ireland,
Check this review out and others on my blog: Get Real.

A fascinating story that sheds light on a turbulent time in Irish history, as well as the phenomenon of bog bodies. Fergus McCann's brother Joe is doing time in a Northern Irish prison for collaborating with terrorists during the Troubles - a brutal period in Irish history that culminated in violent deaths on the sides of Republicans and Unionists alike. Joe and the other prisoners in his bloc are undergoing a hunger strike as part of a prote
Sep 12, 2008 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
A true humanitarian who worked on human rights issues around the world, Siobhan Dowd was also a rising star in the Y/A literature field.

Bog Child, Siobhan's third Y/A book, are two stories in one. Set in Northern Ireland during the early 1980's, Fergus and his uncle have just uncovered a body that buried in the bog where they were harvesting turf. Who is she, how did she die and why is she buried in the bog?

But we also have the story of Fergus's family. Fergus's older brother Joe is in prision a
Oct 05, 2011 Kwoomac rated it really liked it
The story takes place in the 1980s in the midst of "the troubles" in ireland. 18-year-old Fergus McCan lives in N. Ireland with his parents and two younger sisters. His older brother Joey has been recently imprisoned for working with the provisional IRA. He is serving a ten-year sentence. Bobby Sands, a well-known provisional IRA member, has died in prison after a 66 day hunger strike whose goal was to persuade the British government to award the status of political prisoner(rather than criminal ...more
Apr 12, 2015 RitaSkeeter marked it as dnf
Shelves: 2015
Dnf at 103 pp.

I love YA books, but they - at least the ones I've come across - seem mostly concerned with young people in the US, and are focused on middle class white people. I'm not knocking that, there are important stories to be told, and I love the genre, but there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of diversity. So I was quite excited when I stumbled across this book. It is set in Northern Ireland during the troubles.

A criticism I've seen in some reviews is that this book doesn't explain the
May 22, 2014 Maxwell rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland, 2014, audiobook
I listened to the audiobook of this, narrated by Sile Bermingham, and it was lovely.

Siobhan Dowd is also the one with the idea behind A Monster Calls which Patrick Ness wrote. And I loved that book. So I was definitely excited to read a book that she wrote herself.

The story follows a boy named Fergus McCann in 1981, following his discovery of a bog child in a peat bog on the Ireland/UK border in N. Ireland. His life is quite hectic at the time, with his brother being on hunger strike in Long Ke
Aug 02, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it
Interesting story set in Northern Ireland in 1981, during "the Troubles", when the radical IRA was fighting against the British to get Northern Ireland reunited with the rest of Ireland, and young men like 18 year old Fergus were often recruited to join in their terrorist activities. Fergus' older brother is in jail for doing that sort of thing, and is now on a hunger strike. Fergus, however, just wants to avoid all the politics and ace his exams so he can get into college and away from his smal ...more
Nov 17, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing
The book is set on the border of Northern Ireland during the "Troubles" - about 1980. The main character is Fergus, a boy about to become a man, finishing school, learning to drive, taking family responsibilities,and most important learning to make life altering and ethical decisions. The author is able to show the process and tension of making these decisions.

I am making this book sound dull and it isn't. It is alive and wonderful. The characters and plot are complex and full and real. I could
Mar 12, 2011 kari rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 5-star, 2011
Expertly weaves several compelling plots.
The language used is so carefully crafted, not a word is wasted. More importantly, you'll never forget you're reading a story about Ireland. I could almost hear the soft accent of the narrator without it feeling overdone.
Fergus is a wonderful character, full of hopes and dreams that he doesn't know if he'll be able to make come true. You'll be pulling for him as he takes his exams and sad when he's forced to make a decision to help his brother
Apr 02, 2011 Paul rated it really liked it
Bog Child by Siobhan Down was a page turner, although a few of the Irish expressions slowed me down a bit. I knew next to nothing about the politics of Ireland especially in 1981 when this story is set. I got more of a grasp of the ordinariness of people involved in political conflicts by reading this book. I could easily imagine the characters involved. 16 year-old Fergus McCann is an athlete and a student. He finds the body of a girl in a peat bog – she’s met a violent end. Fergus dreams about ...more
Cindy Dobrez
Jul 11, 2008 Cindy Dobrez rated it it was amazing
Fans of David Almond's books are going to love this one. Fergus finds a body buried in the peat he is digging in Northern Ireland. It turns out to be from 80 AD, another body preserved in the bog. He begins to dream about the mysterious past of the girl, who apparently was murdered. Woven into this story is the 1980s politics of the Troubles, and the hunger strike by the political prisoners at Long Kesh, including Fergus's older brother. A romance with the archaeologist's daughter and Fergus's i ...more
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Siobhan Dowd was born to Irish parents and brought up in London. She spent much of her youth visiting the family cottage in Aglish, County Waterford and later the family home in Wicklow Town.
She attended a Catholic grammar school in south London and then gained a degree in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University. After a short stint in publishing, she joined the writer's organization PEN
More about Siobhan Dowd...

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“The studying, the books, exams, arguments, theories. The jokes and pints, laughter, kisses and songs. Life was like running, ninety percent sweat and toil, ten per cent joy.” 34 likes
“Death is not a reaper, like they say, nor even a friend. It is a dark, fierce water, an inundation.” 19 likes
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