While illegally digging for peat with his Uncle Tally, almost 18-year-old Fergus McCann discovers the body of a young girl. Though her body may be thousands of years old, Fergus begins to hear the voice of the Bog Child in his dreams. And through those dreams, he begins to see how her life, so long ago and so different from what he knows, complements and parallels his own.
I loved this book. It is very definitely a must-read for any fan of David Almond. That's the short version of what I have to say.
The longer version is: Not everyone will love this book. It's certainly not a book to hand out willy-nilly to reluctant readers. It isn't an easy-breezy read, action-packed and full of snappy comebacks. While there are two romances in the book, neither of them are the typical romance novel romances. They didn't make me swoon (though Fergus and Cora have some adorable moments as well as some wonderfully steamy ones), and from the very beginning, neither of them felt very permanent.
I've read a lot of books lately that are packed full of ridiculous expository dialogue. Bog Child has none of that. Siobhan Dowd dropped me into Fergus' world without any explanation, and while I had to scramble a bit to catch up, I appreciated the fact that the characters never sounded like they were talking to ME. But, again, I can see how some readers would have a hard time with it all. I liked it. But, as I've said a million times before, I really like it when I feel like authors have confidence in and respect for their readers' intelligence.
I don't want to call it slow-moving, because I didn't find it so—I felt so much tension due to the hunger strikes and to Fergus' involvement in running packages over the border, not to mention the growing tension within his family and within himself—but I can certainly see how someone else could feel that way.
Me, though? I found it flat-out riveting. Siobhan Dowd created an amazing sense of place and time, but somehow made the story—which, aside from the larger themes of conflict, sacrifice and peace, was about a boy letting go of his childhood and preparing to move on and in to the world—timeless.
It's a gorgeous book, and a special one. Definitely one to hand to adults who tend to look down their noses at the YA section.