Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bog Child” as Want to Read:
Bog Child
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bog Child

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  4,030 ratings  ·  568 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 ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published 2009 by Definitions (first published February 7th 2008)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bog Child, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
frankie No, it's really not good for that age. I'd say more 14 and 15. There's a lot of of tragedy and violence, and just some older themes. …moreNo, it's really not good for that age. I'd say more 14 and 15. There's a lot of of tragedy and violence, and just some older themes. (less)
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 ther…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)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,030 ratings  ·  568 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Bog Child

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
After I given many YA books low rating I been asked why I still read them? Answer is to fin books like. It's been worth going to lot of crap to find gems like this.
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
Connie G
Eighteen-year-old Fergus is digging for peat in a bog along the border of Northern Ireland when he discovers a dead body. The small woman had been well preserved in the bog for thousands of years. Archeologists look for clues associated with her death.

Meanwhile, Fergus and his family are trying to cope with the knowledge that his older brother Joe, an imprisoned member of the Provisional IRA, is on a hunger strike. Bobby Sands and some other prisoners have died, and Joe is wasting away. Fergus w
Jan 23, 2015 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
Dov Zeller
So many compelling moments in this book, with Fergus an endearing and engaging protagonist. His curiosity, concern, intelligence, appreciation of people and refusal to let go of the complexity that allows him to see the "other" as deeply human combine with his shyness and humility to make him a character who is easy to care for (at least in my experience).

The storyline is not always satisfying and the plot a bit heavy handed at times. The whole bog child element I found more distracting than eng
It was a wonderful read. Fergus will be one of my favorite characters for years to come.
in recent years I haven't read any book on Ireland, and I am very vague about Irish history. I just know that they were under the British for a long time.
I came upon this book when I read A Monster Calls as a part of the group BOTM read (this book too wouldn't have been in my radar otherwise) and Patrick Ness, the author , in his foreword a suggested that the reader should try out books by Siobhan Doud, whos
Gurveen Kaur
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across Siobhan Dowd while reading A Monster Calls by Patrik Ness. I learned that the storyline was originally drafted by Siobhan, however before she could complete it, she lost her life to cancer. Since both these authors shared the same publishing house, Ness was approached to continue and give the storyline shape and bring it to life (to which he very humbly agreed).
We had a group discussion on it and some of us expressed our interest in reading some books by Siobhan, and mutually agre
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
A charming YA novel. It combined two things that I love to read about—Ireland and those archaeological wonders, the bog bodies. Fergus, the main character, is out early one morning surreptitiously digging peat with his Uncle Tally when they discover the peat-stained body of a young girl. When it is determined that she is an Iron Age body, not a modern murder victim, Fergus is encouraged by the archaeologist in charge of the dig to stay interested & involved. As she has a charming daughter, Fergu ...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
Josephine (Jo)
Jun 13, 2015 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 the 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 ...more
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even ****1/2
One of the best read of this year, definitely the best of this Summer.
The life of a "normal" teen ager in his last year of school - with his usual teen agers cravings and happenings (love stories, friends, fear for the outcome of his exams) - together with the terrible happenings of his family - his brother in Jail as PROVO and on hunger strike - compared to the happenings of a dwarf girl of the iron age (iron age girl/iron lady!!!).
A plunge into the water of our recent past, in tho
From BBC radio 4:
Episode 1 of 10

By Siobhan Dowd. Award-winning novel set on the Northern Irish border during the Troubles. Abridged by Sara Davies and read by Finnian Garbutt.

As he's out digging illegally for peat with his uncle, Fergus finds the body of a child, who seems to have been murdered. He tries to concentrate on revising for his A levels, as a means of escape from the 'insane' world around him: his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing o

Description: As he's out digging illegally for peat with his uncle, Fergus finds the body of a child, who seems to have been murdered. He tries to concentrate on revising for his A levels, as a means of escape from the 'insane' world around him: his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and being blackmailed into acting as a courier for the IRA . A voice comes to him in his dreams and the
Sep 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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... ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was quite blown away by this book, a young adult read but with more power to it than many adult books I've read. Fergus is an incredibly endearing "hero", dealing with the layered problems of the Troubles in Northern Ireland while handling all the challenges of growing up and becoming a man in a community with violence and horror just under the surface. Crossing checkpoints - and his friendship with Owain the Welsh guard - while coping with the issues of contraband running and the hunger strik ...more
Harshad Lamrood
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An year back, I purchased this book from British Library's withdrawn books . Since then it was resting in the shelf waiting to be read. But somehow I never picked it up giving priority to other books. Until last week when I pulled it out to have a glance at it, and to my surprise the book happened to be "unputdownable" and I completed it on a go.
what a novel. How unfortunate was l having such a precious read in my shelf and ignoring it day by day.

rest all about the bog child has been said very
Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
I read this book to my 12 year old and we both learned a lot from it - about the Bog People they discover in the peat bogs in Ireland and about The Troubles in Ireland in the 1980's. It provoked some interesting discussions between us and gave me an opportunity to introduce my daughter to the wonderful poetry of Seamus Heaney and his Bog People! The story and the writing weren't fantastic but the content was certainly interesting and thought-provoking. ...more
Mar 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction, favorites
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.
What a poignant story of love, life, legacy, and death. At first, I had a hard time getting into it because it’s very heavily to do with Irish history that I’m not well versed in. After reading a quick Wikipedia article to give myself a bit more context, things started making more sense, and I began to care about each of the characters and what happened to them.

There are some supernatural-esque elements to this novel that I would have liked to see fleshed out a bit more. Does Fergus really have
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book for a few reasons:

1. it deals with bog bodies
2. it is set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and much of the plot revolves around the violence and politics of that era, something that I've never come across in literature in America
3. it dealt with some romantic relationships but kept the annoying stuff to a minimum
4. it communicated both humor and pain very well
5. I didn't find it too predictable. Anytime anything happened, I was pleased to report that my first guesses w
Liisa Naur
Jan 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading the book, I wasn’t really sure whether I like it or not. There was just something about the book that made me want to read it every minute that I had some free time. Now that I took some time to really think about “Bog Child” and its story, I can say that all in all it was a great book that really had a little bit of everything - mystery, history (Ireland during the 80s, Irish hunger strikers, the Troubles, IRA etc), first love, friendships and family matters. Younger me would have ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Indian Readers: Bog Child - Gurveen, Inc Read et al... 36 223 Apr 18, 2017 03:32AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd - starting 18th March 2014 2 22 Mar 19, 2014 03:09PM  
Book/Poem Pairing 1 5 May 30, 2013 03:53PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Lark
  • The Supreme Lie
  • Diary of a Young Naturalist
  • Philadelphia, Here I Come!
  • Buffalo Soldier
  • The Dancers Dancing
  • Eclipsed
  • Moone Boy: The Blunder Years (Moone Boy #1)
  • Haavatud jumalanna paranemispäevik: 30 päevaga tallamatist supernaiseks
  • I Am Alfonso Jones
  • The New Policeman (New Policeman, #1)
  • Wizardology (Ologies, #3)
  • Foster
  • Moone Boy 3: The Notion Potion
  • The Skin Nerd: The Skin is an Organ - The 360° Approach to Your Healthiest Skin
  • Moone Boy: The Fish Detective
  • A Thousand Moons (Days Without End #2)
  • The Mirror & the Light
See similar books…
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

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
87 likes · 15 comments
“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.” 32 likes
“Death is not a reaper, like they say, nor even a friend. It is a dark, fierce water, an inundation.” 19 likes
More quotes…