Bog Child
by Dowd, Siobhan

After coming across the body of a young child who appears to have been murdered out in the bog, 18-year-old Fergus is compelled to put his own family dramas and personal difficulties aside in order to solve the mystery of a victim he doesn't even know in the hopes of granting both of them the peace they are due.

Siobhan Dowd's novels include A Swift Pure Cry, for which she was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start author, The London Eye Mystery, and Bog Child. She passed away in August of 2007 from breast cancer.

From the Hardcover edition.

*Starred Review* While cutting peat in the Irish hills, Fergus McCann and his uncle discover a body preserved by the bog. Archaeologists and politicians fight over the find, while Fergus starts to dream about the past of the bog child he names Mel. Dowd slowly reveals the story of Mel's mysterious death, an apparent murder, amid the 1980s troubles of Northern Ireland and the hunger strike of the Long Kesh political prisoners. Fergus' imprisoned older brother joins the strike as Fergus is blackmailed into delivering packages that may contain bomb-making supplies. The history, which will likely be as unfamiliar to American teen readers as the story's dialect, may need fleshing out with additional sources, but the intriguing characters and their motivations and sacrifices will translate directly to contemporary readers. The plotlines are braided together into a strong story that is rich in language, setting, and theme. Fans of David Almond's work will savor the similar religious influences and the elements of magical realism. A budding romance with the archaeologist's daughter, exuberant Cora, will delight readers, who will wonder, as Fergus does after his first kisses, Why wasn't the whole world doing this all the time, why? Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

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) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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