Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.
‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’
When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.
It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.
But sometimes the rules are different.
Published June 15th 2017 by Transworld
Earlier on today I posted an extract of this taut, chilling book, which you can read HERE and I’ve returned (I know – two posts in a day!) to share my review.
Fierce Kingdom is a book you can NOT begin reading if you have somewhere to be or something to do. Honestly, you won’t make it, because you’ll be gripped to this book from beginning to end. Allow yourself a few hours of uninterrupted reading time and remember to breathe!
When Joan and her four year old son, Lincoln, visit the local zoo, it begins as a day like any other. Like all four year olds, Lincoln is keen to stretch the day out when it’s time to leave, meaning they’re cutting it fine making it to the gates before closing. But when gun shots ring out through the zoo, their visit becomes a game of hide and seek as they take cover in a bid for survival.
Gin Phillip’s writing had me gripped right from the very first sentence. It’s sharp, tense and filled with atmosphere, transferring Joan’s fear and determination to protect her son directly onto the reader. I read this book without daring to breathe or move myself, completely captured in the horrifying moment with Joan.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would do in Joan’s situation, as some of her decisions seemed unwise or even uncomfortable in one situation. The truth is I don’t know. Protecting Lincoln means she faces a tough choice, and as much as I can rationalise it as pure survival instinct, it bothered me. What is clear and tangible is Joan’s desperation to protect her son, and that I did completely understand. I thought the relationship and dialogue between the two was authentic and perfectly pitched, right down to Lincoln’s inevitable ill timed requests. I’ve dreaded the “I’m huuungry” wail myself, but never has it evoked such panic, as Joan wrestles with remaining calm and mounting frustration.
Fierce Kingdom takes a normal and innocent situation and fills it with nightmarish threat and menace. It’s horrifying as it’s a situation that could occur, and has occurred and is a situation completely out of our own control. Shocking and tense, I was on tenterhooks throughout – this really is a book that grips the reader and refuses to let go until very end.
(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of the publisher)