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Book Review

Book Cover

Hollow Kingdom (Hardback)


Author: Kira Jane Buxton
Publisher: Headline
308 pages
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 1 4722 6865 5
Publication Date: 06 August 2019

S. T. is an intelligent domesticated crow, fond of spending time with his human, Big Jim. Everything in his life appeared to be going fine until the day he found Big Jim scratching at the wall. S.T. tried his best to interest Big Jim in some of their favourite pastimes, with no success and when finally Jim’s eye falls out S.T. has to admit that there may be a problem here that he cannot deal with alone…

Hollow Kingdom (2019. 304 pages) is a fantasy parable, written by Kira Jane Buxton. Having the lead character a talking crow is not a problematic idea, after all George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Richard Adams's Watership Down both involved animals which showed a level of intelligence level to mankind. As a character, S.T. is both interesting and highly amusing.

Although not specified, S.T. has obviously woken into a zombie apocalypse, but with no frame of reference spends a lot of time thinking that Jim will just snap out of it. When at last, the last vestiges of hope have died, S.T. ventures out into the world with the rather moronic dog, Dennis. Buxton has a lot of fun with S.T.’s inability to work out what is happening to the humans. He does his best to understand, but with no cultural frame of reference, I’m guessing Jim was not a great zombie movie fan, his take on events are amusingly twisted.

S.T., as a character, is both precocious and pretty hard, he is going to have to be for the journey he has embarked on, though he is not alone. Dennis is one big dumb dog, who for reasons of sentimentality, S.T. has taken it upon himself to keep him alive. Although Dennis is one of the few creatures not imbued with human level intelligence, his dependence on and affection for S.T. is well portrayed. The growing relationship between these two lone survivors is very much at the heart of the book.

The story may depict animals, but this is clearly a hero’s journey. S.T. and Dennis could well have holed up somewhere and tried to survive, but S.T.’s initial desire to return all the humans back to normal leads him to the realisation that, when that cannot not happen, what will become of all the domesticated pets, how will they survive in a world where wild animals once again have dominance?

This is a cleverly written story, where the author has taken some pains in making sure that each of the animal not only have their own voice, but that the main character logically develops during the story. The book contains a lot of humour, but, more importantly, heart and there are times when the turn of events is truly heart-breaking.


Charles Packer

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