Monday, September 3, 2012
Review: Bog Child
By Siobhan Dowd, read by Sile Birmingham
Published 2009 by Listening Library
Fergus is digging for peat in the mountains of Ireland with his Uncle Tally when he makes a gruesome discovery - the body of a child buried within the peat. As Fergus adds this mystery to the list of things troubling him, multiple storylines unfold and the mystery of the bog child is uncovered.
I've been fascinated by bog people and the like for a while now - probably a result of my overall fascination with different cultures - so this book has been on my radar for some time. I need to start this review by saying that this book was not at all what I expected. What I expected was an intriguing mystery of a body found in the peat; what I got was so much more. Dowd weaves together multiple storylines to paint a complex and fascinating portrait of Ireland in the 1980s. Perhaps this book resonated a bit more with me, having spent some time in Ireland doing volunteer work, but either way, this is a wonderfully well-done novel. The voice Dowd has created for Fergus is captivatingly real and incredibly easy to sympathize with. Fergus is going through some very tough times in this novel; in fact, the whole of Ireland is going through some tough times. What I really like about this is that Dowd didn't use the Troubles as simply a backdrop for her mystery of the bog child - she actually incorporated the Troubles and their effect on Ireland's families into the storylines of her book. While sometimes balancing multiple storylines can be tricky and often one's interest level does not remain consistent across the various plots, I think Dowd does a wonderful job. Each story in this novel is just as interesting as the last - readers will be drawn into Fergus' personal struggles, the mystery of the bog child, Fergus' family problems, the burgeoning relationship with Cora, and the struggles of Ireland itself. While this book may be a bit heavy for some, readers who persevere will be rewarded by the richness this novel encompasses. Truly a stunning work of young adult fiction.
My only complaint about the audio is that the narrator had a soft voice and was occasionally too quiet to hear clearly. But a lovely Irish accent is always pleasant to listen to.