I have been eagerly anticipating the release of Fierce Kingdom, by Gin Phillips, for MONTHS; I had read multiple posts during the blog tour for the UK release and it shot right up to the top of STAFF PICKS at Chapters-Indigo upon its release in Canada, but since the US released it later on in July and I was reading it with Jessica and Chandra for one of our July #cjsreads picks, I held off for as long as possible! Now that I have read the title, I feel as if the hype is justified but feel like this book absolutely left me wanting more.
Let me break it down.
The novel opens with a mother (Joan) and her young son (Lincoln) enjoying an afternoon at the zoo. Lincoln is talking a mile a minute, Joan is making lists in her head and as they head out of the zoo for the evening, Joan hears a popping sound. Something is absolutely wrong and this is made clear when Joan sees the bodies. There is a shooter in the zoo and the shooter is not just hunting the animals. Scooping up Lincoln and running, Joan must try and protect him from the evil that lurks.
The general premise was absolutely gripping; I was hooked from the first pages of the book. What a different setting for a thriller! I felt like the zoo backdrop added an extra layer of unpredictability as our protagonist had to not only worry about the human danger but also the danger that comes from nature. Phillips also does an excellent job at making her characters realistic and relatable. I was genuinely concerned for their plights and found myself continuously asking myself what I would do in such a situation. I also felt like Phillips did an amazing job at developing her secondary characters.
Now, my struggle with the book is hard to discuss without giving any spoilers but I did have quite an issue with an aspect involving a baby. I felt like I didn’t get any resolution and I felt quite a bit of anxiety surrounding this small bit of plot. I also struggled a lot with the ending. Again, hard to explain without providing spoilers but it really didn’t leave me satisfied.
Overall, I felt like Fierce Kingdom was a stellar piece of fiction and would recommend it to anyone looking for something fast paced and engaging. Gave it 4/5 stars!