Her Choice by Dean Thompson

Her Choice

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A debut mixed-genre novel about rape and unplanned pregnancies in which horror and suspense meet a political treatise.

At a gazebo in a park, a psychotic rapist viciously attacks teenagers Maria and Juan. He kills Juan and violently rapes the virginal Maria, ending the attack by slashing her face and impaling her with a knife, leaving her near death. Maria survives but her life is destroyed, deprived of her dreams of marriage and motherhood; a pregnancy would probably kill her. Maria wonders if it would have been better had she had died in the attack—a wish complicated by the realization that her unidentified rapist impregnated her. She procures abortifacient pills from a sympathetic Mexican pharmacist and attempts suicide before leaving town. In a new city, she befriends Kat, a young woman who has had a disturbing hookup with Tio, a colleague who works in the employee relations department of her company. Although the encounter was initially consensual, he became violent, choking her and leaving her with many bruises and a fertilized egg. Apparently, Tio constantly seduces women and demands that if they become pregnant, they have abortions. He’s a psychopath and serial rapist, though that doesn’t seem to hinder his ability to maintain a responsible managerial job while eluding all law enforcement. But, according to certain characters, terminating a pregnancy is worse than that: “In deciding to abort—to kill your baby, you have committed a sin more grievous than that of the rapist,” a priest tells Maria. Elsewhere, Thompson depicts certain procedures with an uncomfortable level of detail: “[T]hey’d use forceps to pull the baby—except for its head—out of my body. Then they’d stab a hole at the base of its skull and suck its brains out until the head collapses.” The implausible plot is unfortunate, because the author is able to generate real fear. Tio’s diabolical mind and his ability to exert control from his position in the company are terrifying. Without the anti-choice diatribes this might have been a successful thriller.

An overwhelming anti-abortion political agenda and heavy-handed metaphors mar this genuinely scary premise.

Publisher: Dog Ear
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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