Publication Date:

Copyright Date:




Get the best author info and savings on services when you subscribe!

IndieReader is the ultimate resource for indie authors! We have years of great content and how-tos, services geared for self-published authors that help you promote your work, and much more. Subscribe today, and you’ll always be ahead of the curve.


By Gregory Treakle

IR Rating:
G.S. Treakle's RETURN TO THE LION'S DEN is a powerful debut novel that will resonate with anyone who has struggled to make peace with a painful past and forge a new path forward.
IR Approved
A news executive with a troubled childhood returns home and tries to piece back together his relationship with his dysfunctional family.

In his debut novel, RETURN TO THE LION’S DEN, author G.S. Treakle delves into a complex web of family dynamics, generational trauma, and the long shadow of war. The story follows Daniel MacRae, who left his troubled home in 1981 to escape his father Jerome’s alcoholic abuse. In 2005, Daniel, now a successful network news executive, is forced to confront his traumatic past when he receives word that his estranged father is dying of liver cancer. Reluctantly returning to his Indiana hometown for the first time in decades, Daniel must take on the role of caregiver while attempting to rebuild his fractured relationship with his family and come to terms with the painful legacy of his father’s Vietnam-related trauma and violent behavior.

RETURN TO THE LION’S DEN opens in the harrowing aftermath of a bewildering act of violence. Daniel and his father are peacefully engaged in yardwork when, triggered by a neighbor’s fireworks, Jerome suddenly attacks Daniel with a baseball bat. The novel then rewinds to fill in the backstory of the MacRae family: Jerome, a Vietnam War veteran, is permanently disabled and has “developed a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality”—drinking heavily such that he oscillates between loving family man and abusive alcoholic. For Daniel, that final attack by his father—and the legal issues that follow—becomes the breaking point that finally propels him away from his toxic family situation. The novel jumps forward to Daniel’s adult life as a successful globe-trotting broadcast journalist. He has known about his father’s terminal condition for months but is indifferent until a phone call from his distraught mother—caring for Jerome has proved too much for his mother and sister to endure—compels him to return home.

In one of the novel’s most affecting sections, Treakle vividly depicts Daniel’s emotionally charged homecoming: his tense, combative reunion with Jerome; the uneasy mixture of feelings upon finding his once-terrifying father weakened and defeated by cancer; and the long days and nights of caring for a parent he despises but cannot help feeling sympathy for. When Daniel finds Jerome watching a Vietnam War documentary, it leads to a conversation about his experiences during the war that leaves Daniel determined to learn the truth about what happened to his father.

RETURN TO THE LION’S DEN is most effective when it focuses on the central relationship between father and son, two deeply wounded men grappling with sins of the past. Treakle explores the complexities of forgiveness and redemption with empathy and unflinching candor, asking difficult questions about the nature of culpability and the possibility of change. The story falters, however, when it strays from their relationship and into detours—such as young Daniel’s legal troubles following his father’s attack, or Jerome’s Vietnam experiences (a gripping story, but one that would have had more impact at half the length).

G.S. Treakle’s RETURN TO THE LION’S DEN is a powerful debut novel that will resonate with anyone who has struggled to make peace with a painful past and forge a new path forward.

~Edward Sung for IndieReader

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that IndieReader may make a commission if you use these links to make a purchase. As an Amazon Affiliate, IndieReader may make commission on qualifying purchase.