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 what, a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls. "Bog Child" is an astonishing novel exploring the sacrifices made in the name of peace, and the unflinching strength of the human spirit.
Winner 2009 Carnegie Medal
"When Fergus McCann, 18, crosses the border from Northern Ireland into the Irish Republic to steal peat for his uncle to sell as fuel, what he digs up is a small body, an obvious victim of violence. Are the Troubles now claiming children? he wonders. But nothing is as it seems in the late Dowd's (The London Eye Mystery) rich work, set in 1981 and exploring sacrifices made in the name of family and freedom. Archeologists suspect the body is ancient, and they overrun the hillside of Fergus's discovery. Haunted by his find, Fergus learns its story in vivid dreams. Daylight provides no respite. His brother, an imprisoned IRA member, has joined Bobby Sands's hunger strike. His father salutes; his mother grieves. Three exams away from earning entrance to medical school, Fergus doesn't understand the strikers' mission, but his brother is resolute: "A coffin's a mighty statement, Ferg." Experiencing first love with the lead archeologist's daughter, Fergus is torn when he's blackmailed into being a courier by his brother's friend. Dowd raises questions about moral choices within a compelling plot that is full of surprises, powerfully bringing home the impact of political conflict on innocent bystanders. Ages 12-up. " Publishers Weekly
"Set against the backdrop of the hunger strikes during the summer of 1981 in Northern Ireland, this coming of age story is a mass of fear, bitter memories and uncertainty in a world seemingly on the brink of disaster. Fergus only wants to leave the mess in Northern Ireland and have a chance at living a life away from all the troubles. And yet, with his brother in prison joining the hunger strikers, and the discovery of a bog child, his summer is set on a path he could never have imagined. He is quickly pulled into the controversy surrounding the discovery of the bog child as well as the troubles themselves. The history surrounding events in the novel will undoubtedly be unfamiliar to many who read it, but there is sufficient explanation throughout the narrative that will allow anyone unfamiliar with the troubles in Northern Ireland a firm enough grasp to enjoy the novel. The fast pace and fascinating subject matter make this an enjoyable read for adults as well as teens." Danielle Williams, Children's Literature
Siobhan Dowd lived in Oxford with her husband, Geoff, before tragically dying from cancer in August 2007, aged 47. She was both an extraordinary writer and an extraordinary person, and leaves two unpublished novels, the first being Bog Child. Siobhan's first novel, A Swift Pure Cry won the Branford Boase Award and the Eilis Dillon Award and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and Booktrust Teenage Prize. Her second novel, The London Eye Mystery, won the 2007 NASEN & TES Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award.