Kingdom by Shawna Ryan


Book Two
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Interweaving 1850s Utah with various present-day locales, this sequel continues the bloody back story of religious extremists as they battle to create the 21st century’s “perfect” race.

The first book, Kingdom: Book One (2014), ended with a brutal murder in a vomit-strewn New York City prison cell; the second book doesn’t hesitate to plunge readers right back into it. The victim, Hank Blanchard, was just another casualty of a larger secret plot known as Project Samson. This project is masterminded by an extremist sect of Mormons whose lineage dates back to 1850s Utah, a time and place when recent immigrants John and Anna witnessed numerous grisly murders of gentiles, Native Americans, and other non-Mormons. In the present day, Kevin and Sharon are trying to crack the mystery of a medallion that caused a great deal of consternation and bloodletting in the first book. Made of real gold and featuring symbols of the Mormon Church and a pentagram, the amulet is tied to notions of fecundity and breeding. Kevin and Sharon’s investigation leads them ever closer to unveiling the aims of Project Samson, which blends an Internet-driven data mining conspiracy with a sinister callback to Nazi-era medical practices. This sequel delivers a blood-soaked eugenics plot in a historical fiction frame, with a few references to contemporary politics. Part Clive Cussler, part Michael Crichton, with just a dash of Thomas Harris’ love of grotesque death, it’s a gorefest whose plot hinges on political machinations, the control of women, and deep systematic corruption. The prose is often overworked, but the pacing is full throttle, leading to a seemingly inevitable (if expository-heavy) denouement. Despite having been developed over the course of two books, the characters rarely have any kind of resonant emotional depth to break free from their roles as sensational plot drivers. By attempting to satisfy with increasingly elaborate and disturbing set pieces, this isn’t a work of reflection but rather one of reaction.

Combining all the tropes of mainstream action-adventure, this book delivers a bloody fusillade of murder, betrayal, historically rooted agendas, and contemporary political corruption.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-62526-222-6
Page count: 287pp
Publisher: Solstice Shadows
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2015


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