Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton, #wyrdandwonder


IMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

HollowkingdomHollow Kingdom is quite literally a bird’s eye view of the zombie apocalypse.  I cannot lie that I felt slightly skeptical going into this novel, I wasn’t completely convinced about reading a book told from a crow’s perspective but this story completely won me over.  It succeeds in being amusing, cynical, a little horror filled in parts (zombie parts more often than not), fascinating and hopeful all in one little nugget of a story. Win. Win.

As the story kicks off we meet ST, a domesticated crow who loves life and humans equally.  Big Jim has raised ST to be wise to the world of MoFos and together with his dog Dennis the three make up a great team watching the world go by whilst scoffing cheetos as though they’re about to go out of fashion.  Life was perfect, right until Big Jim’s eyeball just happened to fall out one day.  The zombie apocalypse has arrived, and before you start to roll your own pair of still perfectly attached eyeballs thinking this is going to be another platform for us to witness humans madly scrambling about in search of brains, think again.  This book is totally different because it’s being told from the perspective of the animals (which isn’t to say that some zombie scrambling doesn’t take place, just it isn’t the main focus).

You can’t simply explain what zombies are to your pet dog or cat, even if you had an inkling to do so given that your brain has transformed to mush, and they have no idea why you’ve suddenly stopped lavishing attention and snacks on them and are instead trying to gnaw off their hind leg.  So, yes, unusually, this is about survival of the animals and I have to say it’s both original and highly entertaining.

I’m not going to tell you too much about the plot other than ST is on a mission.  He and Dennis, like Batman and Robin but without the capes, are about to save the world. Well, they’re about to save the pets of the world, one poodle or labrador at a time.

What I really liked about this is ST’s perspective on things.  It’s really cleverly achieved, in fact it seems almost devilishly simple and yet I suspect that a lot of thought had to go into this to make all the characteristics of the various animals feel so very lifelike and critical to the story rather than simply amusingly incidental.

On top of this the idea of ST is very well thought through, he’s in a great position to be able to help the other animals out in the wild because he’s been so clued in to many of our human ways and this makes him not only pivotal to a lot of the action but also boosts him into an almost ‘leader’ status simply by dint of his knowledge.

The pacing here is really good, there’s plenty of momentum and frankly never a dull moment.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing really to speak of although I would use this opportunity to mention that being a book involving zombies there is bloodshed, and there is also sorrow – so be warned.

Just to be clear, this is not a grimdark story even though elements of the tale make for harsh reading.  And, yes, I realise that humour can be very subjective and someties difficult to pull off but I think the author really succeeds in making this a hopeful story told with real heart.

I listened to an audio copy of Hollow Kingdom bought through Audible and have no hesitation in recommending that format.

My rating is 4 out of 5 stars.