Then: Madeleine lived for her children. She'd always believed she'd die for them, too. But on the morning of her twins' tenth birthday her love was put to the test when a killer knocked on their door and forced her to make a devastating choice: which child should live, and which should die - her son, or her daughter?
Now: Madeleine stands silent on the periphery of her now fractured family, trying desperately to unravel why her world was so suddenly blown apart. But while everyday life continues around her, memories of everything leading up to that tragic day return in agonising flashes.
And that's when she realises her family's life still hangs terrifyingly in the balance...
It's fair to say, it exceeded them.
From the first chapter - where my jaw dropped at the powerful predicament mother of two Maddie found herself in - to the last, emotional page - this book grabbed my attention entirely. The premise of the book is every mother's worst nightmare.
A gunman storms into your house, grabs both your children, forces you to choose which one to save and which one to watch die. As the book begins, Maddie, traumatised deeply by her experience, struggles to come to terms with her choice - she struggles to connect with her husband, or her surviving child. She feels like a ghost on the edge of a life that was once so familiar - and feels as if she will never be able to recover from the awful trauma which visited her house on her twins' tenth birthday.
It's hard to review this book without giving away any twists and turns - because this book twists and turns like no other. Just when you think you have an idea of what's going on, or when you think one situation is resolved, things inevitably take another twist.
All the while, we are in the head of Maddie - a woman broken by her experience, who doesn't remember large chunks of her life before or after the shooting.
This book had me gripped entirely - forsaking TV viewing for two nights to gobble it up and find out what had happened and how Maddie would cope with what she has been through. While the thrust of this book is indeed a thriller - and one which Samantha King delivers in spades, it is her writing of a mother's love, and the daily interaction of Maddie and her children before the shooting that gives this book the real grip factor.
You are with her as she makes her decision. You are with her after. You see the love she made sure her babies never doubted and it grabs you by the heart and makes this an emotional rollercoaster of a read. I highly recommend this book - it is an exceptional debut and I'm very much looking forward to seeing Samantha King's career as a writer progress.
A first class, gripping triumph of a book.
The Choice will be published by Piatkus on April 20.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.