One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary author.
S.T., a domesticated crow, is a bird of simple pleasures: hanging out with his owner Big Jim, trading insults with Seattle’s wild crows (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.
Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most tried-and-true remedies–from beak-delivered beer to the slobbering affection of Big Jim’s loyal but dim-witted dog, Dennis–fail to cure Big Jim’s debilitating malady. S.T. is left with no choice but to abandon his old life and venture out into a wild and frightening new world with his trusty steed Dennis, where he discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.
Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.
Booklist starred (June 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 19))
When a wise-cracking, curse-spewing narrator identifies himself as a Seattle-born talking crow named S.T. who’s just witnessed an eyeball popping out of his “MoFo” owner’s head, readers willing to get on board this bizarrely captivating debut novel will know they’re in for a bumpy ride, seat belts not included. Unfortunately, the eyeball incident is just the beginning of S.T.’s troubles as Big Jim, his master and trainer, explodes into a zombie-like rage, forcing S.T. to flee the house on the hirsute back of Dennis, the floppy-eared family bloodhound, and into an unexpectedly frightening outside world. It seems every square mile of Seattle’s streets and parks is now teeming with frenzied undead MoFos, Big Jim’s contemptuous label for humankind, all of whom get especially crazed by beeping smartphones. Eager to find one or two disease-free humans to save the day, S.T. narrowly escapes gnashing zombie jaws and inexplicably uncaged zoo animals until he crosses paths with a wise fellow crow named Kraii, and realizes his true mission in life: to free other domesticated animals from their housebound prisons before it’s too late. While S.T.’s floridly descriptive, expletive-laden narration sometimes feels self-indulgent, Buxton’s quirky ideas and compelling nonhuman characters will satisfy literary fiction and zombie genre enthusiasts alike who are looking for something beguilingly different.
Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2019)
When a deadly virus changes humankind forever, S.T., a domesticated crow with a mouth like a sailor, and his dog, Dennis, teach the animal kingdom how to survive the apocalypse. After their owner becomes a slobbering, zombielike creature with a deadly cellphone obsession, unflappable crow S.T. and loyal canine Dennis venture out into Seattle. They soon realize other domesticated animals aren’t as lucky and are trapped in their locked homes. With his innate knowledge of the MoFo (human) world, S.T. uses his corvid intelligence and Dennis’ high-powered sniffer to come to the rescue. When old and new predators emerge in a city quickly returning to nature, S.T. and Dennis join forces with wild crows and other animals to keep their territory safe. It’s an intriguing and fun premise that starts with a strong and saucy voice, but this debut novel gets very muddled very quickly. In lieu of giving her lively animal characters a rich narrative arc, the author focuses too heavily on not-so-subtle morality tales about every injustice and environmental crisis in the world today. The science is messy, wins feel too easy, and losses don’t cut as deeply as they’re meant to, though it’s possibly saved by witty one-liners and the author’s sharp take on a bird’s eye-view of Seattle. A heavy-handed zombie apocalypse-meets-nature documentary meant to inspire humans to do better, but it loses its way.
About the Author
Kira Jane Buxton’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, NewYorker.com, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Huffington Post, and more. She calls the tropical utopia of Seattle, Washington, home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband.
Her website is www.kirajanebuxton.com
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