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Bog Child

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  2,127 ratings  ·  352 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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2009 Printz Contenders
34th out of 56 books — 1,488 voters
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Best #UKYA Books
53rd out of 408 books — 291 voters

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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
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
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
Dec 13, 2008 Karlan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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 08, 2011 Lan rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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
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,
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 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011, 5-star, ya
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
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
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
I agree with the mass of online reviewers that the subject matter is unconventional for teen literature fodder—a Northern Irish teenager, Fergus, has the standard teenage worries of exams and cars, but Dowd also intertwines the harsh political worries of Ireland and the Sinn Fein by involving Fergus’s brother, who is a political prisoner. [return][return]While gathering peat one day with his uncle, Fergus discovers the body of a young girl from the Iron Age (although at first they think the body ...more
Barbara Wilson
I love to read books and learn things - bog people during the Iron Age. Fergus and his Uncle Tally discover a body which appears to murdered. Fergus hooks up with a mother and daughter archeology team to discover it's mystery. The story takes place in Ireland in the 1980's political unrest (his brother is in jail on a hunger-strike; he's asked to run packages past the border guard). And the story of the murdered girl is told.
This may be the best YA historical fiction novel I've ever read - The haunting story provides insight into the causes and effects of the Troubles without ever resorting to the merely informative. Dowd refuses to provide easy answers in her unflinching examination of tough issues like sacrifice, borders, political action, love, patriotism, and personal and familial responsiblity.
I happened upon this book when it was listed in my Goodreads recommendations. I recognized the author from another book I had read a while back, a story which she conceived, but did not live long enough to complete. That book, A Monster Calls, cowritten by Patrick Ness, was one of my favorites, so I was eager to see what else Ms. Dowd had written. And Bog Child, same as the previously mentioned book, did not disappoint me.

Bog Child is a coming of age story set in Ireland in 1981, at a time of p
Mrs. Vande Kraats
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd is a novel about a boy who finds a mummified girl in a bog in Ireland. The novel skips around in time as we discover the stories of both the girl in the ancient past, as well as the boy in the present. Bog Child is an interesting take on the historical fiction genre, as it explores the ancient and recent past of Ireland.
Angela Alcorn
I don't know what I was expecting from this exactly, but I was surprisingly intrigued by the modern-day (well, early 80s) plot from this book. The more I think about this book, the more I like it. There was a lot going on and yet it pulled together beautifully. I can see why it was nominated for awards.
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bog Child is cool view into the past. It has two Irish stories intertwined. The first is the story of Fergus, a young man who lived during the Irish Troubles who finds a bog body. The second is the life of the girl he found. Both of them illustrate Ireland, and both show that heartache and struggle are universal. I really loved how real both of them felt. Dowd is a master at giving the reader the information they need but still making her twists a surprise. I loved learning more about Ireland du ...more
This was an awesome read!
The blurb and the cover I found were slightly misleading, as they suggest a supernatural theme. This meant that I wouldn't usually go for this type of book, but it has encouraged me in the future to pay more attention to them, as it was very good!
I'm not going to lie, the first third was slightly slow, but by the time the book hit the half way mark it was a complete 'page-turner'!!! The plot was excellent, and I was crying at the end:(. Dowd is a brilliant author who car
I really need a "4.5" or "4.8" for this book. It's lovely and often magical. But my feet remained on the ground enough to keep it from "5" star status. A really, really great job by Ms. Dowd of looking through the eyes of a young adult who's an innocent bystander to politicial violence, but also can't escape it, for now... Fergus is a very internally articulate and evocative main character to take us on the journey through his Bog Child summer. And he's down to earth enough to keep him accessibl ...more
Dayna Smith
The story is set on the border of Northern Ireland and the south in 1981. While digging peat with his uncle, eighteen-year-old Fergus finds a body buried in the bog. He is fascinated when the body is discovered to be from the Iron Age. He must also deal with passing his exams to be a doctor and the turmoil in his family. His brother Joe is in prison for a terrorist bombing and is on a hunger strike. As his brother dies and his family falls apart, Fergus must deal with his own coming of age in a ...more
It was a great book, although you really need to understand the book otherwise, you will think that its abit boring...
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YA Buddy Readers'...: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd - starting 18th March 2014 2 12 Mar 19, 2014 03:09PM  
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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...
The London Eye Mystery A Swift Pure Cry Solace of the Road The Ransom of Dond This Prison Where I Live: The Penn Anthology of Imprisoned Writers

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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.” 21 likes
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