Fierce Kingdom: A Novel (Hardcover)

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As the cool air of autumn rushes over the mountains into our valley and heralds the coming of Halloween, many of us are looking for the perfect suspense/thriller novel to curl up with. "Fierce Kingdom" by Gin Phillips is the book I recommend to fill that need. It is a heartrending story of a mother and her young son trapped in a zoo with crazed, meticulous shooters.

That's right, a plot out of most people's worst nightmares. The monsters in this book don't lurk behind the doorways of your childhood imagination, but in the crevices of your brain that hold your biggest fears. They are the perfect villains because they are possible and visceral. They come for you even when you are enjoying a nice day in a public space, such as the zoo.

The beginning and the end of this book will grab you and refuse to let go. If you have children this book will especially take hold of you. Once you are trapped in the zoo with this mother and her four year old son you will want to read quickly, so that you can try to escape the madness yourself.

For days after reading this book, questions of "What would I do?" will run through your mind. There is the ethical, good answer, and then there are the answers that haunt you at night as you think about your own survival in a situation similar to this. The author deals with all of these options, which makes the psychological aspect of this novel as stimulating as the terror.

The writing style itself is not sacrificed for the sake of the genre. The fast current of the paragraphs pulling the heroine towards the impending end will occasionally dip you in a hot spring of mental instability on the part of the antagonist.

There are even momentary breaks allowing you to come up for air as the author takes the reader into sweet familial moments. But very, very small breaks that only heighten your concern for these suffering characters.

Phillips masterfully plays through the minds of both the victims and the shooter. So well, in fact, that you may find yourself caring for the villain, though you don't want to.

I have no qualms about recommending this book as it is now a new favorite. It has raised the bar on suspense writing that I will accept as thrilling. But be warned: Not even the very last sentence is truly safe.

— From Book review: ‘Fierce Kingdom’ by Gin Phillips is thrilling suspense novel perfect for Halloween

August 2017 Indie Next List

“Joan and her four-year-old son, Lincoln, are just about to conclude a day at the zoo when Joan notices an unnatural stillness and a lack of other people. She hears sounds, loud popping noises, and cannot quite determine what they might be. Then she notices the bodies. How quickly life shifts from a dream to a nightmare. She shushes Lincoln and hurries away, back into the zoo she knows so well, intent on finding a hiding spot until help arrives. This is an absolutely gripping exploration of what it is like to be hunted, to be trapped and awaiting rescue but still able to connect, with cell phone glimpses, to that other life that now seems so tenuous in the midst of real danger.”
— Deon Stonehouse, Sunriver Books, Sunriver, OR


One of the New York Times Book Review's Best Crime Novels of 2017

“Warning: you'll finish this in one sitting.” —TheSkimm  

“Expertly made thriller . . . clever and irresistible.” —The New York Times

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.
Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself—from its tender moments of grace to its savage power—Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?

About the Author

Gin Phillips is the award-winning author of The Well and the Mine and Come In and Cover Me. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family.

Praise For…

Recommended reading by * The New York Times * USA Today * Real Simple * The National Book Review * * Bustle * HelloGiggles * PureWow *

“A heart-thumping thriller . . . The story flies by like a gazelle being chased by a lion and is easily consumed in a single sitting.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“Heart-stopping . . . A stunning novel you'll be talking about all summer long.”

“A shot of pure adrenaline. But it’s not just the action that will keep you turning pages: Fierce Kingdom is a moving story too.”
—Entertainment Weekly

“Gin Phillips’s heartpounding novel will have readers questioning what lengths a mother would go to in order to save her child . . . or someone else’s.”
—Real Simple 

“A page-turning, adrenaline-soaked read.”
—The Guardian

“A fast-paced read for fans of thrillers . . . At a deeper layer, it’s also a rumination on motherhood—the monotony and thrill, the duty and risk, the incredible, sometimes indescribable fear and joy of raising a child.”

“Extreme heart-pounding adventure, right this way. Fierce Kingdom is the perfect summer thriller.”

“The premise of this novel will send chills down the spine of any parent—and keep them turning pages into the wee hours.”

Fierce Kingdom is gripping and almost impossible to put down.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Because we make fun of helicopter parents for the lengths they go to to keep perfectly safe children even safer, we can can forget that, for children, safety is a kind of love—and that makes Fierce Kingdom a terrifying book, but more importantly, a beautiful one.”

“By introducing the threat of violence, the book amplifies everyday domestic concerns, producing a kind of crystallization of the experience of parenthood.”
—The New Yorker

“Fierce Kingdom unfolds at a rapid-fire pace with each chapter upping the tension and danger.”

“A powerhouse of a read that balances empathy and fear as it poses complex questions about human nature.”
—Washington Independent Review of Books

“This heroine proves that a mom protecting her son is indisputably the fiercest creature in the animal world.”

Fierce Kingdom is a novel that crackles with tension and danger. . . . Do yourself a favor and devour this book before the inevitable movie premiere.”
—New York Journal of Books

“This adrenaline-fueled thriller shows the animal instinct of one mother's love and the ferocity with which she fights to protect her son.”
—Read it Forward

“It tore at every maternal fiber in my body. I couldn’t put it down.” 
—Fiona Barton, New York Times bestselling author of The Widow

Fierce Kingdom is a bold exploration of the ferocity of a mother’s love—riveting and beautiful, and all too real. You’ll find yourself asking, what would I do? It’s brilliant.”
—Shari Lapena, New York Times bestselling author of The Couple Next Door

“I devoured it in one breathless sitting. Outstanding.”
—Clare Mackintosh, New York Times bestselling author of I Let You Go

“This is an elegant, taut, and tense survival story that explores the boundaries of parental love. By pitting love against fear, Gin Phillips questions the opposing forces of family bonds and shows how fierce one mother’s love can be.”
 —Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal and The Bear
“I loved this book not only as a mother, but as a woman—and a feminist—living in a world teeming with pressing domestic details along with unpredictable, casual violence.”
 —Susanna Daniel, award-winning author of Sea Creatures

“Phillips’ characters are exquisitely rendered, her prose is artful and evocative . . . Poignant and profound, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will shatter readers like a bullet through bone.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A searing exploration of motherhood at its most basic.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Phillips manages to combine beautiful imagery with heart-pounding, nerve-fraying intensity. . . . Fans of literary page-turners, like Sunil Yapa’s Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, won’t want to miss this.”
Booklist (starred review)

Fierce Kingdom is stunning and extraordinary; keep the defibrillator handy.”
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780735224278
ISBN-10: 0735224277
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: July 25th, 2017
Pages: 288
Language: English