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FIERCE KINGDOM by Gin Phillips Kirkus Star


by Gin Phillips

Pub Date: July 11th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-7352-2427-8
Publisher: Viking

A deadly game of hide-and-seek is set inside a darkened menagerie.

Joan and her 4-year-old son, Lincoln, are playing with action figures in the Dinosaur Discovery Pit when several small explosions echo through the zoo. Joan is puzzled by the noise, but it’s nearly closing time and she doesn’t want to get locked inside, so she ushers Lincoln toward the exit. Near the gate, dead bodies litter the ground, and an armed man is entering the women's bathroom. Joan grabs Lincoln and flees into the heart of the park, searching the shuttered buildings for a place to hide while attempting to explain the situation without frightening him. The duo hunkers down, but it's not long before stress and hunger take their toll. With at least one active shooter on the hunt and an increasingly cranky child in tow, Joan faces a series of heartbreaking decisions. Phillips’ (A Little Bit of Spectacular, 2015, etc.) latest is expertly structured to maximize tension and emotional impact. The siege unfolds in real time, with each chapter noting the hour and minute. Joan’s inner monologue provides the bulk of the narration, her thoughts a rolling storm of tangents that relate history and inform motivation while governing pace and tone. Phillips’ characters are exquisitely rendered, her prose is artful and evocative, and the restraint she practices with regard to on-screen carnage grants weight to every shot fired and corpse discovered.

Poignant and profound, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will shatter readers like a bullet through bone.