Feral Creatures (Hollow Kingdom #2) by Kira Jane Buxton

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Knocked it out the park

FeralCreatures

Wow – mind blown.  With dubious feelings I picked up Hollow Kingdom just shy of a year ago and managed to completely fall in love with a strange crow known as ST.  Such a unique concept, an apocalyptic world, destroyed by humans, or mofos as we are known in the Hollow Kingdom, and a story told by animals as they try to survive.  A world where nature is slowly reclaiming her lost territory, until further changes and abominations begin to slowly surface.  I really enjoyed this strange mix of refreshingly original, darkly funny and sometimes slightly horror soaked storytelling and I highly recommend it.

Again, with a dubious heart, I picked up Feral Creatures.  Dubious simply because, well, firstly, I wasn’t expecting a second book so it was a surprise – a very welcome one of course – but then, let’s be honest, sometimes second books suffer the dreaded Middle Book Syndrome and I had such good memories of the first in series – anyway, hold the phone because this book was even more of all the goodness that made Hollow Kingdom such an excellent read.  More animals, more emotion, more fantastic writing.  I loved it.  Now, I know you’re all super excited and want to pick this one up right now, but, listen to my wise words – if you haven’t already read the first then pick that up before reading this- also spoilers may be present for book one so be warned, if you haven’t yet started the series, stop reading now.

Feral Creatures starts almost immediately where Hollow Kingdom left off.  ST is looking after a young human nestling, a baby if you will, known as Dee.  Between ST and the owls they take care of this fragile little human who seems to attract wildlife and nature with apparent ease.  In certain respects you could call this a coming of age tale, also a tale of a parent letting go of their beloved child.  This is a dangerous world and ST doesn’t want to let go, he wants to run and hide with his beloved mofo.  Dee has other ideas.  She thinks she’s part crow, part owl, part bee, well, basically she’s a carefree and wild young woman simply trying to win the approval of her strange family. At the same time as all this ‘coming of age’ tale is taking place the world is changing, humans are changing, and the nature of the wild is in danger.  Dee could be the key to maintaining balance but ST, having already lost two beloved family members, is more intent on keeping her hidden and out of harm’s way.  At the end of the day ST is about to come to terms with the lesson that most parents eventually learn – your children grow up, they want to become adults, they want you to be proud but they want to make their own choices.

In one word I can tell you what I loved about this: everything.  The story itself is again intriguing.  The author manages to bring to you a story of family and the difficulty of letting go of your fledglings.  Dee is a fantastic character but she’s supported by a wonderful cast of animals and birds that simply makes the goosebumps stand up on your arms.  Imagine being beloved of such a range of critters.  It gives me happy feelings.  Then Dee.  Desperate for acceptance, longing for approval, making bold strides forward when ST simply wants to hide her under a rock.  I just loved this dynamic.  How on earth can we have a post apocalyptic world of, quite possibly the strangest make up I’ve ever read, and yet have a completely domestic, family feel between such a discordant bunch of characters. It’s absolutely mind blowing and I loved it.

Now, add to this the writing.  Oh my giddy aunt.  The writing is beautiful. It’s funny  There are references aplenty.  But, more than that, the writing is simply bewitching.  Like, every little bit of what is on the page feels ‘animalistic’ or ‘birdlike’ or from the realm of insects.  It’s simply wonderful.  I feel completely in awe of the writing because every element feels as though it was chosen to help you delve into the wonder of nature.  The animals and their movements are described with a charming simplicity but on top of that all the descriptions have a natural feel to them that brings another element to the story.  Also, wow, so clever.  Don’t be thinking to rush through this because although it is actually a quick read – you need to pay attention or else you will miss so many of the little plays that are going on and they’re just delightful.

My emotions ran riot.  I did actually cry whilst reading this and that is not something that I do lightly or actually admit to very often.  It was the emotional impact of what was going on.  I just couldn’t help myself. There’s a beauty to this, a simplicity and at the same time it just resonates.  How that can actually be possible? I don’t know.  Basically the author has tapped into something here about all creatures and the roles they play.  It’s touching, it’s familiar and it’s insightful.

And of course there are still the horror elements.  This is a world altered beyond recognition.  The beauty of this story is that we don’t really follow or reflect on the human struggle as such and that’s what makes this so gloriously original.

Look, I’m going to stop here.  I think I’ve quite possibly gushed enough.  Frankly I think this will  be one of my top reads of the year.  It certainly surpassed the first and if there is a further instalment, which I suspect might very well be a possibility (please make it happen), well, consider me here for that. In fact just give me the book, now.  Pretty please.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

Wondrous Words and Can’t Wait Wednesday : Feral Creatures (Hollow Kingdom, #2) by Kira Jane Buxton

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Feral Creatures (Hollow Kingdom, #2) by Kira Jane Buxton – because I loved Hollow Kingdom and I was so happy to discover there would be a book 2!  Here’s the description:

FeralCreaturesIn this stunning follow-up to Hollow Kingdom, the animal kingdom’s “favorite apocalyptic hero”is back with a renewed sense of hope for humanity, ready to take on a world ravaged by a viral pandemic (Helen Macdonald).
 
Once upon an apocalypse, there lived an obscenely handsome American crow named S.T. . . .
 
When the world last checked-in with its favorite Cheeto addict, the planet had been overrun by flesh-hungry beasts, and nature had started re-claiming her territory from humankind. S.T., the intrepid crow, alongside his bloodhound-bestie Dennis, had set about saving pets that had become trapped in their homes after humanity went the way of the dodo.
 
That is, dear reader, until S.T. stumbled upon something so rare—and so precious—that he vowed to do everything in his power to safeguard what could, quite literally, be humanity’s last hope for survival. But in a wild world plagued by prejudiced animals, feather-raising environments, new threats so terrifying they make zombies look like baby bunnies, and a horrendous dearth of cheesy snacks, what’s a crow to do?
 
Why, wing it on another big-hearted, death-defying adventure, that’s what! Joined by a fabulous new cast of animal characters, S.T. faces many new challenges plus his biggest one yet: parenthood.

Expected publication : August 2021

WWW

This meme was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion Blog and has now been adopted by Elza Reads.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.

No rules just enjoy and for further info check out Elza Reads.

I’m sure that I’ve read some worthy words to highlight this week but unfortunately I haven’t made a note of any so nothing from me today but stop over to Elza Reads to see what word(s) she’s discussing and check out the other links.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton, #wyrdandwonder

W&W

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.