Analysis, Reading, Reviews

Review: Hollow Kingdom

TLDR: Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton is fresh, witty, and will give you all the emotions. Recommended.

If you’re submitting your own work for publication or hunting for an agent, and want to feel insecure about your pitch, here’s the perfect book for you.

Can you answer questions like, why will the reader empathize with your protagonist?
While also explaining how the protagonist is memorable and surprising?

Well this protagonist is a foul-mouthed, domesticated crow who is caught between two worlds, the world of humans and the world of animals. He is impulsive and quick to emotion, but he values intelligence and has a fierce pride about being human (and a fierce hurt that no one sees a human when they look at his black feathers).

And if that’s not sufficient for you to empathize, well the crow is taking care of his human’s dog. You can’t hate a protagonist that loves dogs.

From a writing point of view, this novel is constantly taking the usual formula with a twist.
On its face, it’s your typical Hero’s Journey. The protagonist reluctantly leaves behind the familiar world, entering the dangerous unknown and there is forced to grow as a person.

On the one hand it’s a super-basic zombie apocalypse, but it’s from the perspective of the domestic animals. As the jacket says, it’s Homeward Bound meets Dawn of the Dead.

But should you read it?


The prose is constantly beautiful and shocking. At first I considered the prose unsustainably gorgeous, but the author keeps it up through the very end.

All that said, it was not an easy read. Reading about all the humans becoming zombies or being killed by zombies, was maybe not the best choice during a global pandemic. Even if these were halcyon days, this book would still have been an emotional roller coaster.

Despite the gore (it is a zombie book after all) and the nerve-jangling worry over these sweet animals, the book is also packed with reminders of hope, perseverance, compassion, and beauty for the natural world that is so often missed by humans.

Six out of five stars. Go read Hollow Kingdom. I promise, it is like nothing you’ve seen before.


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