Fierce Kingdom: A Novel

Fierce Kingdom: A Novel

by Gin Phillips


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One of the New York Times Book Review's Best Crime Novels of 2017

“Warning: you'll finish this in one sitting.” —TheSkimm  

“Expertly made thriller . . . clever and irresistible.” —The New York Times

An electrifying novel about the primal and unyielding bond between a mother and her son, and the lengths she’ll go to protect him.

The zoo is nearly empty as Joan and her four-year-old son soak up the last few moments of playtime. They are happy, and the day has been close to perfect. But what Joan sees as she hustles her son toward the exit gate minutes before closing time sends her sprinting back into the zoo, her child in her arms. And for the next three hours—the entire scope of the novel—she keeps on running.
Joan’s intimate knowledge of her son and of the zoo itself—the hidden pathways and under-renovation exhibits, the best spots on the carousel and overstocked snack machines—is all that keeps them a step ahead of danger.

A masterful thrill ride and an exploration of motherhood itself—from its tender moments of grace to its savage power—Fierce Kingdom asks where the boundary is between our animal instinct to survive and our human duty to protect one another. For whom should a mother risk her life?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735224520
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/24/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 192,720
Product dimensions: 5.14(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

Gin Phillips is the award-winning author of The Well and the Mine and Come In and Cover Me. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family.

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Copyright © 2018 Gin Phillips.
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Reading Group Guide

1. The entire novel takes place over the course of about three hours. Discuss what techniques the author uses to create a sense of urgency over the course of the story.

2. The author is very sparing in the details she reveals about Joan’s life prior to this day at the zoo. Why do you think the author does this? What effect does this have on the storytelling?

3. Do you agree with the way that Joan explains the situation to Lincoln?

4. Why do you think part of the story is told through Robby’s point of view? Are we meant to sympathize with him?

5. What do you make of Joan’s decision not to help the woman with the crying baby? What would you do if you were in Joan’s shoes?

6. Why do you think Robby is so respectful of Mrs. Powell? Is it important that Mrs. Powell remembers him? If she hadn’t, do you think he still would have let her go? Why do you think Robby lets Mrs. Powell go?

7. What do you make of Joan’s decision not to follow Robby’s suggestion to go toward the sea lions? Do you agree with her choice? What would you have done?

8. Over the course of the novel, Joan has prioritized the survival of her son, choosing not to help others when given the opportunity. Why do you think she ultimately decides to put her own safety at risk to help Kailynn when Kailynn is cornered by Mark and Robby? Does Joan choose to help Kailynn only because she no longer has Lincoln by her side?

9. What do you make of the ending of the novel? Do you think Joan survives?

10. What role do stories—television shows, movies, family anecdotes—play in the novel? How do stories shape these characters and their actions (for better or worse)?

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