Fierce Kingdom

A Novel

Publisher: Random House Canada
An electrifying literary thriller introduces an unforgettable mother and son, whose simple trip to the zoo one afternoon is transformed into three hours of terror and survival after gunshots ring out. What would you do to protect the ones you love?

After school on a late October day, Joan has taken her four-year-old son, Lincoln, to one of his favourite places on earth: the zoo. Just before closing time, as they need to go home, she hears some loud pops like firecrackers. Not thinking much of it, they head for the exit...until Joan realizes the eerie human emptiness means danger, then sees the figure of a lone gunman. Without another thought, she scoops up her son and runs back into the zoo. And for the next three hours--the entire scope of the novel--she does anything she can to keep Lincoln safe.
     Both pulse-pounding and emotionally satisfying, Fierce Kingdom is a thrill ride, but also an exploration of the very nature of motherhood itself, from its saving graces to its savage power. At heart it asks how you draw the line between survival and the duty to protect one another? Who would you die for?

READ AN EXCERPT

5:23 p.m.

Joan scans the sand pit for any forgotten plastic men, and then she takes Lincoln’s hand and heads down the path leading out of the woods. She wonders when he will stop wanting to hold her hand, but for now they seem equally happy with th earrangement. In less than twenty steps the trees have opened...
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PRAISE FOR

“With time stamps marking the breathless passage of minutes and the emotional stakes ratcheted up to ‘I will kill you before you hurt my kid’ the story is like 24 for parents.” —Rachel Heinrichs, Chatelaine

“Gripping, shocking and unputdownable.” —Claire Frost, The Sun (UK) 

“Phillips’s latest is expertly structured to maximize tension and emotional impact. The siege unfolds in real time, with each chapter noting the hour and minute. Joan’s inner monologue provides the bulk of the narration, her thoughts a rolling storm of tangents that relate history and inform motivation while governing pace and tone. Phillips’s characters are exquisitely rendered, her prose is artful and evocative, and the restraint she practices with regard to on-screen carnage grants weight to every shot fired and corpse discovered. Poignant and profound, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will shatter readers like a bullet through bone.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[P]anic-inducingly gripping. . . . This is the sort of book that, by virtue of its horrific premise, is impossible to put down until its resolution. . . . It is also—and this was unexpected, in such a page-turning, adrenaline-soaked read—an eloquent and meditative insight into motherhood and what it means, its many small trials and joys and wonders. . . . With deft, careful memories and observations, Phillips brings this ordinary—and wonderful in his ordinariness—four-year-old to life. . . . Here the challenge is pure survival, and it’s one hell of a ride watching these characters try to make it.” —Alison Flood, The Guardian

“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
 
“This heart-stopping novel about immediate survival will challenge you to evaluate the link between the intensity of love and the will to live. Joan is smart and tireless in her efforts to outwit and outrun danger while juggling the basic physical needs of a small boy, and along the way finds the strength and presence of mind to weigh compassion for others with her clear priority: her own son. 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
 
“I was absolutely captivated by this book. So, so tense, but wonderfully written. The perfect book.” —Gillian McAllister, author of Everything but the Truth
 
“Unbearably tense and yet beautifully written, Fierce Kingdom demands to be read in one sitting. After finishing, I pulled my loved ones a little closer.” —Paula Daly, author of The Mistake I Made
 
“Taut, tense and moving.” —Chris Ewan, author of Safe House

“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, author of The Couple Next Door
 
“I devoured it in one breathless sitting. Outstanding.” —Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go