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.
What a brilliant book. It is unlike anything I have read before.
Shit Turd (S.T.) is a crow living with his favourite MoFo Big Jim and Dennis the dog. One day Big Jim’s eyeball falls out, everyone is a little shocked by this occurrence. S.T. sets out to save his beloved Big Jim, however, when he finds the problem is more wide spread, he sets out with Dennis the dog on a quest to find help. In whatever guise that may be.
Points of View
Most of the chapters are written from S.T.’s perspective. However, scattered throughout the book are chapters written from other animals’ points of view, both in Seattle and around the world. They read like a small series of standalone stories interweaving with the main narrative. They are beautifully done, some are heart wrenching, others intriguing and some just stunning in their telling.
Chapter 15 was especially evocative. It is told from the view point of a 200-year-old spruce tree. Those two pages made me look at trees in a whole new light.
My absolute favourite stand alone by far were those of Genghis cat. As a cat owner myself, they were spot on perfect. In fact, I even made my husband read one of those chapters. I have never handed a book over to him before (we have vastly different tastes) and even he was laughing out loud.
S.T. himself was brilliant, he is half crow and half MoFo (human) with the foulest mouth – I loved him. He goes through so much in the course of this book. He starts so stubborn but gradually learns to trust and rely on others.
Kira manages to get you to route for all these characters as if they were human. She has done an exceptional job.
Kira’s take on what happened to humanity I found really interesting (and a tiny bit scary). At around the half way mark I suddenly had the realization that this book had a much deeper message. This wasn’t just a fun romp through the apocalypse, but a lesson to be learned about the over use of technology.
Due to what is happening some scenes are a little gory. It fits perfectly with the story though and isn’t overly gratuitous.
This is a terrific book; it is laugh out loud funny but also deeply moving. The final few chapters left me totally rung out. In fact, when I closed the book my exact words were ‘holy shit!’ I adored S.T.’s character and his foul-mouthed ways. Kira’s take on all the animals seemed perfect, the way they conversed and moved. It all just worked.
The writing is also superb, the pacing was perfect and the end of each chapter left me wanting more.
This is also a book I could have pulled so many quotes from. I am going to leave you with one of my favourites from the one and only Shit Turd.
I hoped my presence had at least provided a little comfort, because it had done absolutely fuck all to dispel our stereotype as the harbingers of deathS.T.
My thanks to Rosie from Headline for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review.
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 home and spends her time with three cats, a dog, two crows, a charm of hummingbirds, and a husband.