Monday, 3 March 2008

Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

David Fickling Books

PUBLISHED posthumously, months after its author's death from breast cancer, Bog Child is a peace activist's testament in fiction.

Dowd worked for most of her life for PEN, running international writers-in-prisons and anti-censorship groups, bringing creativity to poor children, and working for her local council in Oxfordshire as deputy commissioner for children's rights.

She also published the influential children's book A Swift Pure Cry, inspired by the Kerry Babies case and Anne Lovett's death in Granard.

Bog Child has two parallel stories of tyranny, involving (I think) the same two families. Fergus is the brother of a hunger striker in Long Kesh, who is dragged unwillingly into being a cross-border courier.

He finds the body of an Iron Age child or woman, who then tells her own story of fighting a tyrant.

Fergus is an appealing hero, and the entwined secrecy of borders, soldiers, volunteers, smugglers and families are interestingly used.

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