FIERCE KINGDOM by Gin Phillips
Release Date: 25 July 2017
My Rating: 3/5
Joan and her four year old son, Lincoln, soak up the last of a beautiful day at the zoo. Far off, cracks interrupt their play, reminding Joan it’s time to head home before the zoo closes. As they round the bend to the exit there is a field of carnage, and a lone gunman, back to them, surveying his handiwork. Joan picks Lincoln up and bolts back into the zoo. A game of cat and mouse begins, and Joan is about to find out just how much she’ll sacrifice to keep Lincoln safe.
A harrowing tale of survival, this is written mostly in Joan’s head as she runs and waits, caught up in a nightmare of domestic terrorism. She spends the novel considering her son, her childhood, and making adrenaline-fueled decisions to keep them alive. I feel conflicted about this novel, as the writing and characterization are both excellent. I didn’t totally understand making this a literary thriller. Part of the brutality of other books with similar events, such as, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, is the extended normality up until the shattering event. I thought the reminiscing could have been served better as present action, moving into the event. It isn’t thrilling, it’s horrifying. Had it been written with more of nod to the terror and as less of an action/survival tale I think it could have been truly hard hitting. I want to note how genuinely subjective these comments are, but, for me, the story lost some of its power by locating itself as a suspense/thriller.