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.
I very rarely manage to read a book in a day now (thanks to motherhood) but this I just tore through thanks to naptime! I could not put it down and I was held in Gin Phillips’ story telling grasp from start to finish. I was utterly captivated. This book is so unbelievably tense – I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time as my hungry eyes devoured the tale of Joan and Lincoln.
This isn’t a non-stop thriller ride kind of thriller. It’s much more subtle than that, it’s a game of hide and seek where discovery could be fatal. It’s a powerful and beautiful portrait of motherhood and the fierce need to protect our young.
‘This is such a different kind of intimacy than with, say, a lover…..
With Lincoln, the line between their two selves is blurred.’
This is a definite ‘what would I do?’ kind of a book. As we see Joan and Lincoln hiding and making their way through the zoo, you can’t help but wonder what you would do in the same situation. The desperation Joan has to keep Lincoln quiet and safe just leaps from the page.
The book is told in real time – the nightmare starts at 4.55pm and then ends at 8.05pm. This just adds to the tension and is a fantastic way of telling the story. A lot happens in just over three hours, the longest three hours of Joan’s life. For the most part we stay we Joan and Lincoln, but their tale is interspersed with other characters – Kailynn, Margaret and Robby. These segway’s lead up to the grand finish involving all of them.
What is really chilling and scary about this book is that it could happen. This story could so easily become reality and that just makes my blood run cold. I will certainly never look at a trip to the zoo in the same way
‘That is what you do when you have a child, isn’t it, open yourself up to unimaginable pain and then try to pretend away the possibilities.’
BOOKISH CORNER RATING – 5/5 STARS
Gin Phillips grew up in Montgomery, Alabama. After earning a degree in political journalism, Gin worked as a freelance magazine writer for nearly a decade. She’s lived in Ireland, Thailand, New York and Washington DC. ‘Fierce Kingdom’ is her debut novel.
‘Fierce Kingdom’ is out now in hardback published by Doubleday. With thanks to Alison Barrow for my copy.