By Gin Phillips
Published by Transworld (15 June 2017)
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.
Fierce Kingdom was a powerful, intriguing and emotive story, with a chilling opening chapter, although it wasn't all as fast paced as I expected. It explores the behaviour of a mother and her young son during an emergency situation, rather than reading like an action-packed thriller all the way through.
The book focuses mainly on Joan and four-year-old Lincoln, who are caught up in a shooting incident at their local zoo. This is a place they know well, so Joan knows exactly where to hide when the shooting begins. The focus is on their relationship and the difficult decisions Joan has to make to keep them safe.
Fierce Kingdom is beautifully written, with vivid descriptions of the zoo, although this did slow down the pace at times. Most chapters follow Joan's thoughts, as she works how to keep Lincoln calm at a time of immense danger. Being a typical young child, he gets bored easily, needs food and struggles to keep quiet. But we do 'meet' another couple of the people in hiding, as well as one of the gunmen.
The tension ramped up as the book progressed, once Joan and Lincoln left their hiding place in search of food. The ending was fairly dramatic but also a little abrupt, leaving me to wonder what had happened to some of the other characters. Plus, being set in a zoo, I would have loved more animal involvement.
Overall though, this was an enjoyable read and certainly made me think 'what would I have done in that situation?'
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher via NetGalley.