Book Review: Fierce Kingdom

07.25.2017 | Viking Books
Rating: 4/5 stars


Joan and her son, Lincoln, are spending the late afternoon at the zoo, just as they have many times before. As closing time approaches, Joan gathers up Lincoln and his things and starts to head for the exit. Once she gets to the exit Joan immediately gathers Lincoln in her arms and begins running back through the zoo looking for a spot to hide. Joan had heard a popping sound while she and Lincoln were playing, but she was so distracted she didn’t think that the sound could be gunfire. Now that she’s seen the exit and the bodies, Joan must determine a way to hide herself and her young son from the madness taking over their happy place.

A considerable part of parenting is pretending moods that you do not entirely feel.

The story is told over the span of 3 hours, allowing us to follow along with Joan and Lincoln, a few other people trapped in the zoo, as well as get inside the mind of who is behind this violent event. Joan will stop at nothing to save her son, but will she be able to successfully hide with a four year old child?

That is what you do when you have a child, isn’t it, open yourself up to unimaginable pain and then try to pretend away the possibilities.

It’s hard for me to discuss the plot in detail without giving away elements of the story that I think are best left for the reader to discover on their own. Gin Phillips sets the reader up on a fast paced, thrilling journey of a mother who will stop at nothing to protect what she loves most. The novel is broken down chronologically into snippets of time as the evening ticks away. I felt that use of time as chapter markers served to accelerate the reading pace because you were able to fully grasp the small window of time in which all of the events were unfolding. Throughout these chapters were other sections intermingled that provided the outlook and narration of other characters involved in the events.

Such a system of checks and balances – parenting – of projections and guesswork, and cost-benefit ratios.

I did struggle with pieces of the novel that dealt with a baby and agreeing with some of Joan’s actions. The ending was also difficult for me because it left me with more questions than answers. Despite these issues, I was able to become fully immersed in FIERCE KINGDOM and felt that Phillips created a quick and engaging read. I would give caution to readers that the subject matter could potentially be tough for those with children.

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