Fierce Kingdom ― Gin Phillips ―”They sound like young, obnoxious white men—aren’t they always young white men?”

Phillips writes this amazing story where a mother and her 4-year-old child go to the Zoo for a regular day of learning and enjoyment without knowing that they will end up trapped in a nightmare. People hiding and dead bodies are their only company and all of those could trip them to death. In a stressful story of survival combined with the possibility of current and real events, Phillips questions the nature of motherhood and its limits.

Phillips writes a story that goes in hand with the cover of the book… because this is “Child’s Play”, and that is a reference to the movie. The horror and stress of this story are incredibly appealing to us. This novel is ambitiously exasperating since all the events happened in a matter of 4 to 5 hours on the same day. The ability and talent required to write a whole story that covers such a short period of time are outstanding.

The topics covered by Phillips in the novel go from motherhood to the most selfish and intrinsic elements of human survival. However, motherhood by itself complies with these two elements since it overwrites the impulse of self-preservation for the safety of the offspring.

fierce kingdom copy

Every single word and event in “Fierce Kingdom” is a decision that will take the characters to their safety or their doom. While reading this novel, the reader must get ready to be always the edge of their seat or bed or couch or whenever they are sitting. Some wise decisions from the narration of this story are the irreconciliation of the conflict and the impossibility of justification. Phillips questions the irrational fear of other people for their demographic and ethnic differences because the perpetrators in this novel sounded like obnoxious white men—aren’t they always young white men? Which contrasts the constant mass attacks and perpetrators to the prejudice of the civilians. “Fierce Kingdom” is just a metaphor for the society in which we live. Phillips transforms the Zoo, a very familiar place for the main character, into a killing zone. However, aren’t we all living in a concrete jungle? The familiarity of the Zoo is a metaphor for our cities, schools, and countries.

This book is so well written to the point of spiking up the reader’s anxiety! Changing the narration and the point of view are mechanisms used for this whole purpose. From the kid being so difficult to handle, to the mother’s mind always going a thousand miles per hour. This book can be incredibly exasperating – which is a good trait. Joan, the main character, keeps drifting from the horrible reality of her complicated past. The ending of the story is the only conflicting part of the story for us since it is not completely clear what happened. Open endings are not my cup of tea.

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  1. A.M. Geever Avatar

    I really hope that you are pursuing a career as a writer because this review is well-written, thoughtful, and… just such good writing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Satou Johns Avatar

      I am going to be honest with you. This means a lot to me as I am pursuing that. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it and leaving such a nice comment! I am glad you liked it and that you feel that way ❤


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