cover image Fierce Kingdom

Fierce Kingdom

Gin Phillips, read by Cassandra Campbell. Penguin Audio, unabridged, , 7 CDs, 8 hrs., $40 ISBN 978-0-525-49230-6

Phillips, whose last two books were written for preteens, has produced a taut thriller with Lincoln, a precocious four-year-old, and his remarkable mother, Joan, at its center. Their plight is the focus of this almost minute-by-minute replay of events that take place one evening at the local zoo, as Joan attempts to protect her son from two gunmen who have opened fire. The reason for their rampage, and how Joan valiantly attempts to protect her child from them, keep the reader going as the tension ratchets up. Narrator Cassandra Campbell, who recreates all of the characters’ voices and inner monologues —including those of the gunmen—has a remarkable ability to project a range of emotions with ease. She helps the reader imagine Joan, Lincoln, the shooters, and the handful of other characters who circle each other in the three or so hours during which the drama plays out. Listeners feel Joan’s fear and anger as she talks her son into keeping himself together in the face of horrific violence. And most of all, Campbell reveals the bond between mother and son, as each tries to be brave for the sake of the other. A Viking hardcover. (July)