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BOG CHILD by Siobhan Dowd Kirkus Star


by Siobhan Dowd

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-75169-8
Publisher: David Fickling/Random

This haunting, suspenseful novel follows the parallel stories of Fergus, facing the final high-school exams that will decide his future, and a murdered Iron Age “bog child” he names Mel after he discovers her well-preserved body in a peat marsh. Living in Northern Ireland in 1981, Fergus is deeply involved in the Troubles between warring factions, as his imprisoned Republican older brother Joe joins a hunger strike. Fergus reluctantly becomes a smuggler of possible explosives in an attempt to protect both Joe and a Welsh border guard he’s befriended. At the same time he begins a relationship with Cora, the conflicted daughter of the archaeologist researching Mel’s death. Mel haunts Fergus’s dreams, relating her own tragic but brave end; her story provides additional resonance to a tale that ends with a glimmer of hope for a better future. A sense of doom, perfectly captured, and images of sacrifice hang over the well-developed characters, making this a painful and moving read. Pitch-perfect in capturing the often futile struggles for the many victims of Irish independence over the millennia. (Fiction. 12 & up)