This book is tragic .... as is, or was the life of the author, Siobhan Dowd. She died of cancer in 2007. At the time of her death she had two unpublished books, this is one.
Ireland has had troubles for centuries. There is always conflict between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This book is set in the Ireland of the early 1980's. There are several parallel stories and it is interesting to see how the author brings them together.
Fergus' brother is in prison. He ends up going on a hunger strike with other jailed members of the IRA (Irish Republican Army). No one has lived much beyond 50 days. It is tearing the family apart - especially Mam.
But.....I'm sure you're asking...."What about the bog child?" As the story begins, Fergus and Uncle Tally are up in the mountains cutting peat. What is peat? It is decayed matter that you would find in a bog or marshy area. In Ireland it is cut and burned -- similar to firewood. The chemicals in peat also have amazing properties of preservation. As Fergus is cutting the peat he finds a human hand. Curled up in the bog they find the body of a human child. Archeologists are called in. It is determined that the body is of a young girl who lived in the year 80.
Mel, as the bog child is named, has her story told as well. She has been murdered. Why? Read the book! Find out how Fergus is blackmailed and how Cora fits into the story. As I said earlier, Dowd has written a touching story -- but keep all the plot lines together.