First published back in May of 2012, British author Matt Shaw’s novella ‘9 Months: Book Three’ formed the third instalment within his ‘Peter Chronicles’ series, with the three ‘9 Months’ books forming a prequel to the ‘Once Upon A Time’ (2013) story, which itself was a prequel to the ‘Happy Ever After’ trilogy.

The ebook novella was later re-released within the ‘His Name Was Peter’ (2017) complete collection, which compiled all the ‘Peter chronicles’ stories – apart from the short story ‘Before Vanessa’ (2019) – into one complete volume.

DLS Synopsis:
Jessica was dead to Fiona now.  As dead to her as her husband actually was.  All that mattered was the baby.  Fiona knew she had to do whatever it takes to ensure the baby was safe.  Even if that meant losing everything else.

Fiona knew it wasn’t going to be easy.  With Bryan dead, she had to take care of everything herself.  Make sure Jessica stayed put.  Make sure she was kept healthy.  Make sure she was kept safe and that no one found out where they were or what they’d been forced to do in order to preserve the life of the unborn child.

It was clear Jessica couldn’t be trusted.  Not only had she murdered Bryan, but Fiona could tell her daughter was merely saying the things she thought would get her out of there.  But Fiona knew Jessica.  Knew when she was lying.  She wouldn’t fall for her tricks.  The girl would stay there, in that house, until the baby was finally born.  Then Fiona knew a decision would need to be made.

Fiona had a lot to do to get prepared.  Bryan’s body had to be disposed of somehow.  Fiona knew she also need to get supplies in.  Have the house prepared for when the time came.  It was all for the baby.  It had to be.  Everything was being done for the arrival of that beautifully pure new baby…

DLS Review:
The previous instalment concluded on a spectacularly brutal note.  With the death of Bryan and the continued incarceration of Jessica in the cellar, Shaw now has one incredibly powerful storyline to build upon.  And that’s exactly what we have with this third instalment (chronologically speaking), which forms the final book in the ‘9 Months’ prequel trilogy.

Everything is now geared up for those final months before the birth.  With so much already established in this tension-heavy narrative, Shaw is able to focus his attention on the plummeting sanity of Fiona, and the utterly messed up relationship between her and her adopted daughter.

This is where the story really excels.  This premise is so utterly unbelievable, so outrageously far-fetched, yet through magnificently crafted writing, Shaw manages to make it all so terrifyingly believable.  Much of this is down to the carefully penned dialogue, which displays haunting subtleties and depth.  You can literally read into almost every word spoken.  Play the role of an amateur psychologist.  Form your own picture of Fiona and Jessica.

It’s undoubtedly the believability of these aspects within the story which makes it such a powerful read.  Perhaps none more so than when the baby is actually on its way.  You’ll barely be able to breathe during the childbirth.  The vivid details.  The pain, the fear, the terrifying reality of it all hitting this poor girl like a falling tonne of bricks.

But it’s those inner, unspoken thoughts which we as readers get to see, where the magnificent human element to it all really comes out.  The instant emotional attachment Jessica has with her baby.  The turmoil of her thoughts as everything is thrown in the air.  It’s breath-taking.

There’s a lot more in this third instalment than just keeping the girl captive until the birth.  We also learn what happened to poor old Darren, we witness the hardship Fiona and Bryan went through when they lost their own child, and we see the difficulties Fiona faced with keeping a lid on the sudden disappearances of these individuals.

Quite simply put, there’s a shitload going on in this story.  But it’s all driven by two characters who we’ve now gotten to know so well – Jessica and Fiona.  The depth to their character development is phenomenal.  It makes the story.  Pumps blood through its veins.  And gives that final conclusion to this third book the solid-steel punch that it so needed to deliver.  Incredible writing.  Outstanding story.

The novella runs for a total of 50 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Peter Chronicles’ instalments:



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