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September 9, 2021

The Final Child by Fran Doricott ~ a Review & Excerpt

by MK French

The Father was a serial child abductor and killer, taking pairs of siblings right out of their beds and keeping them for a time before killing them. Erin and Alex were the last ones; she managed to escape but Alex was never seen again. Eighteen years later, the cousin of the first pair of known victims is contacting the families and attempting to talk with Erin to write a book honoring the victims rather than discussing the abductor. Erin is reluctant to help Harriet, but she can't shake the feeling of being watched. Then odd gifts arrive, making Erin fear that the Father isn't dead after all.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

The Final Child
September 2021; Titan Books; 978-1785657900
ebook, print (448 pages); thriller

I was drawn into Erin's story, as she avoided her past and the gaping holes in her memory that resulted from her trauma. Her survival left its scars on her, so that she didn't have close relationships or friends, was isolated from her mother and the other families that were impacted by the Father, and couldn't trust her own emotions. Harriet's family had pulled together after a fashion, and she wanted to help the families remember their lost and dead children; her manner of being stuck due to trauma was different but no less painful. She respected Erin's need for space, but Erin also had a need for connection, with brought the two of them closer together as the tension ratcheted up.

My heart went out to the victims, and the flashes we saw of the past leading up to the terrible summers when victims were abducted. It's a skillful author that makes you feel almost sorry for the child that will be the reason why other children are abducted. I suppose I should have expected the twist that came toward the end, but I didn't! I followed along with the journey that Erin and Harriet took as the "gifts" were laid out, flashes of memory teased Erin, and their sense of safety grew more and more precarious.

I was sucked into the story from page one and really felt the panic in the women as they were drawn into the echoes of the past. The conclusion was thrilling, and I had to race to the finish. Even so, I also didn't want it to end, because it's such a good book. This is definitely a great read for anyone that loves thrillers with a strong psychological bent.

Buy The Final Child at Amazon

Read an excerpt from The Final Child

I’D BEEN CHECKING MY phone all day, hoping Jillian might decide to call me. I’d played our conversation over in my mind, wondering if she’d think it was my fault that her mother had collapsed. Talking to Molly today had made the guilt worse, and I wanted to apologise. 

Searching for Erin Chambers – which, I reminded myself, was her name now – I’d managed to figure out that she worked for a marketing company in Burton, in an office block not far from town. She was credited with the revamp of their website, and it looked like she was good at her job. 

The address of the office wasn’t far out of my way. In fact, I reasoned, by the time I’d made the hour and a half journey from Sheffield to Arkney to get home, going a bit further south to Burton, just to check on her, wouldn’t take long. I didn’t want to freak her out, but I had no other way of getting in touch without bothering her mother and it seemed like the office might be the most neutral territory I would find. I’d 
rather have to apologise for scaring her than spend the evening worrying whether she was alright.

By the time I got there it was just starting to get dark, the evening developing that smoke-tinged quality of blueness and the shadowed trees dancing against the sky. I sat in my car, holding a cigarette between my fingers but not smoking it. Daring myself to drive away and forget this whole thing. She’d phone me if she wanted to talk, wouldn’t she?

But then, there she was. And I still hadn’t driven away. She looked pale, drawn. She buttoned her coat up tight, glancing nervously down the street before heading right towards the car park where I waited. Rather than let her get close enough to scare, I made sure I wasn’t subtle, slamming my car door and waving at her.

“Jillian?” I called. 

She frowned, stopping in front of a car.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I’m sorry for just turning up,” I said. “I wanted to apologise for the other night. I know it must have been really jarring, and it’s not how I wanted to meet you. I’ve left a message for your mum too. I didn’t mean to upset her and I hope she’s alright.” And I’m worried about you. I had to stop the words before they tumbled out, too.

Jillian didn’t move, but her stance softened.

“Okay, apology accepted,” she said.

We stood together, still and silent. I tried to work out why that hadn’t made me feel any better. Jillian was still wary, like a cat, but there was something warm between us. I tried to grasp it.

“Do you think you would talk to me?” I prompted. “About what happened to you?”


The word was heavy. But she didn’t turn away, and I wondered if she was hoping I’d ask her again.

“I know you probably just think I’m some sort of leech. But I’m not in this for the money. My cousins – they were abducted by him, too. I’ve spoken to everybody else, Jillian. Erin, you’re the last one.” I ignored the embarrassed heat in my cheeks and held her gaze.

“My name is Erin. And what makes you think I care?” Her eyes glittered with a kind of quiet steel that made her beautiful, and I thought of what my mother had said. Was I only doing this because it made me feel better, or could it help her too? Was my new information worth dragging up the past?

“Don’t you want your voice to be heard?” I asked.

She laughed. “My voice? Since when has anybody listened to my voice?”

“I want to hear you,” I said. “I know you don’t know me, but I’m not trying to upset you. I’m trying to help.”

Jillian – Erin – levelled her gaze at me.

She was still unsettled, her eyes flicking to the bare space behind me every few seconds. She shivered in the chill of the evening.

“What do you want from me?”

“There’s a memorial,” I said. “This weekend. I’m going to go and I wondered if you might want to come with me. We can talk, or not, that’s up to you. But I wanted to offer, just in case you’re ready to talk to somebody. I don’t know exactly what you’ve been through, but I’m a good listener.” 

Erin took a short, sharp breath. Her cheeks were pink, her blue eyes icy in the gathering dark. 

“Tell me the details,” she said. “Then I’ll decide.”

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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