Listen to a playlist inspired by the book!

Hollow Kingdom Playlist


A finalist for the 2020 Thurber Prize for American Humor!

"The Secret Life of Pets meets The Walking Dead" in this big-hearted, boundlessly beautiful romp through the Apocalypse, where a foul-mouthed crow is humanity's only chance to survive Seattle's zombie problem (Karen Joy Fowler, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning 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 (i.e. "those idiots"), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

But when Big Jim's eyeball falls out of his head, S.T. starts to think something's not quite right. His 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 suddenly discovers that the neighbors are devouring one other. Local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of Seattle's dangerous new predators.

Humanity's extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a cowardly crow whose only knowledge of the world comes from TV.

What could possibly go wrong?

Includes a Reading Group Guide.

What's Inside

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“Having grown up with two domesticated crows in the family, Jimmy 1 and Jimmy 2, the cursing brilliant crow narrating the hugely original debut, HOLLOW KINGDOM, stole my heart. Laugh out loud, sigh for the dead and turning away from the rotting of human flesh, S.T and Dennis the bloodhound take us on an apocalyptic retelling of The Incredible Journey set against human extinction around the city of Seattle. What other city could be the perfect setting where human life if being destroyed via smart phones and technology. I'd feed S.T. Cheetos anytime!” -Annie Philbrick, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)

“When Big Jim's eyeball fell out, S.T. knew it was not a good sign. S.T. is the narrator of this post-apocalyptic tale set in Seattle. He is a domesticated crow, with his feet more firmly set in the human world than in the Aura world of the animal kingdom and his fellow crows. When Big Jim succumbs, S.T. and Dennis, the loyal bloodhound, form their own murder and are forced out into a very changed world. What starts as a hilarious take on a zombie-like apocalypse as seen from the animal world becomes a compelling ecological tale. And S.T.'s emotional journey rivals any novel I've ever read. I laughed, I cried, I can't stop talking about this one.” -Laura Cummings, White Birch Books (North Conway, NH)

“I'll certainly never look at crows the same way again. Or seagulls, housecats, bloodhounds ... look, HOLLOW KINGDOM is flat-out hilarious, unapologetically silly, and exuberantly profane. But it's also shot through with poetry, oddly moving -- and it sticks with you. I adored both the book and the foul-mouthed, big-hearted, black-winged protagonist.” -Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle's Children's Books (Mendocino, CA)

“Hilarious take on the zombie apocalypse but told from the view point of a pet crow who believes humanity should be saved. As he ventures out looking for a cure he must figure out how domestic animals fit into the new world order and how to come to terms with being a crow and not, as his heart desires, a human.” -Ben Parker, Northshire Books (Saratoga Springs, CA)

“Where better to endure an apocalypse than verdant Seattle? But once S.T. realizes what he's up against he decides to take things into his own claws. Yep, S.T. is a crow, and not just any crow. He is the corvid that will have you laughing all the way through this tale, even while it delivers some hard truths. You will, for sure, want to step away from your cell phone.” -Anne Holman, King's English Bookshop (Salt Lake City, UT)

“HOLLOW KINGDOM takes place at the end of the world in a not-so-alternate version of the present where humans (or Mofos as the narrator refers to them) have been infected with a technologically induced virus that turns them into literal zombies whose sole focus is to acquire a smartphone. But this book is not just about the apocalypse. It’s about those who turn the end of the world into the beginning of a new one. Through ST we are introduced to the college crows, to Winnie the Poodle, to Ghengis Cat, to The One Who Opens Doors, to a beautiful world that exists beyond human comprehension in the language of the trees and the conversations that happen below the ground. HOLLOW KINGDOM is a reminder of how much we take for granted, how much lies beyond our limited scope of understanding, and how much we have to lose if we don’t start paying attention. Kira Jane Buxton has truly written a novel for the 21st century (or however much of it we get through!)” -Kinsey Foreman, Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, MA)

“How do I write a review about this book without sounding like a shrieking, sobbing mess? I loved just about every second of this book. Shit Turd and Dennis' journey breathes new life into the post-apocalyptic genre. I barely wanted to put the book down to attend to normal human things, I was so engrossed in this Seattle inhabited by only animals. I spent a good amount of time weeping while this book was in my hands, only pausing in my devouring of the story to clutch at my confused little dog and snuggle him. This book will make you marvel at domesticated animals and their love for us, it will make you re-think your relationship with technology, and it will make you want to befriend your local murder.” -J Gallo, Bookshop Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

“I don't typically like books narrated by animals, but the voice of S.T. really caught me by surprise. This is not your average zombie novel. And, in fact, I don't think any of the marketing groups this book into the SFF category. It is part story of friendship and loyalty mixed with an environmental warning and plea. I can definitely say that I have never read a book quite like it.” -Jamie Southern, Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, NC)

“Genre-bending, laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreakingly tender, the Hollow Kingdom is a breathtaking romp through the end of humanity. Mostly told through the eyes and wise cracks of a domesticated crow, S.T. (Shit Turd). The animal voices are spot on and the wisdom they shared makes this an essential fable for our time.” -Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books (Davidson, NC)

“Strange, delightful, crass, thoughtful, funny, and oddly poetic. This book was an absolute experience and I already miss following S.T. and Dennis through an abandoned and desecrated Seattle. HOLLOW KINGDOM is as odd as it is timely, and I cannot wait to share its ability to touch the heart in new and unexpected ways.” -Jane Alice Van Doren, Rediscovered Bookshop (Boise, ID)

“S.T. (Shit Turd), the sentient American crow, is seeing things he doesn't quite understand. The humans he adores are behaving strangely; they can't be roused by PBR and Tinder anymore, and they're strangely hungry, violent, and deformed. The reader knows what S.T. cannot: the zombie apocalypse has begun, and its vector is the humble, ubiquitous, seemingly harmless cell phone. S.T. is a smart crow, and he quickly realizes he can't save the human race. All he can do is look after his irretrievably stupid bloodhound roommate, Dennis, as he tries to free other domestic animals from their human homes, stay alive, and not succumb to the Black Tide of depression. This one reads like Tom Robbins on acid, and yet it's suffused with lyrical beauty and unlikely hope. I can't imagine a funnier antidote to our collective hubris.” -Cynthia Haltner, Mrs. Dalloway's (Berkeley, CA)

“How can it be possible, to have such gorgeous, beautiful writing about nature in the same book as some of the most lascivious, hilarious, and foulmouthed insults I've read since Christopher Moore? I really don't know, but Buxton has managed to write a true gem of a novel that is both of these things at the same time, and it's such a treat to read. The book is uproariously funny, particularly through S.T.'s exceptionally sarcastic outlook on life. The descriptions of other animals are evocative and hilarious, each species given defining traits like sexual deviance (squirrels) or narcissism (cats). But additionally the love of nature here is effulgent, and no one is left out. Trees, grass, earthworms all play their part in Mother Nature's grand scheme, the biggest animals no greater than the smaller ones, and a return to pure nature levels all playing fields. As S.T. gets back in touch with his corvid roots, albeit reluctantly, we see how humans, though disruptive, are a part of all this too. The novel, as well as being a roaring good read, is a call to action, even if that action is just listening to the world around us a little bit more deeply.” -Elayna Trucker, Napa Bookmine (Napa, CA)

“Alright, you've got your zombie apocalypse. You've got your Twelve Monkeys. You've got the typical wilderness-taking-back-the-cities, wolves running along the freeways, trees growing through broken windows, the world returning to its primeval untouched state. But we only ever see that through the lens of wildness -- what about the domesticated animals? What happens to them? Hollow Kingdom is an intriguing twist on the zombie trope through the eyes of a domesticated crow who views humankind as the pinnacle of existence: the inventors of Cheetos; the possessors of thumbs. What are you supposed to do when your people cease being people? S.T. the crow embarks on a quest with his bloodhound brother Dennis to save the pets abandoned by their zombie humans. A biting sense of humor, a brilliantly zany way of looking at the world, and perspectives ranging from whales to toy poodles to polar bears to moles --Hollow Kingdom is an excellent addition to the pantheon of apocalyptic lit.” -Tori Hall, Indigo Bridge Books (Lincoln, NE)

“I felt like I was riding a really great roller coaster while listening to the 'Great Courses' on my headphones! A thrilling ride with a moral in the story!” -Tina Ferguson, Face in a Book (El Dorado Hills, CA)

"Hollow Kingdom is a nature book for our own age, an exuberant, glittering, hard-hitting mashup of Dawn of the Dead and The Incredible Journey. It's an adventure lit by strange myths, brand-names, television and smartphone screens, a fable with teeth and claws about animals making new lives amongst the ruins of humanity. It's transformative, poignant, and funny as hell. S.T. the irrepressible, cursing crow is my new favourite apocalyptic hero."—Helen Macdonald, New York Times bestselling author of H Is for Hawk

"I love this book so much! I wanted to set it on fire while hugging it. I wanted to hasten the apocalypse just to see how my own pets fare in a more humane world without humans. Kira Jane Buxton's voice is fresh, like a newly dug grave, but so joyful and honest you'll laugh out loud, and then check to make sure you haven't lost an eyeball. Hollow Kingdom is a wildly original debut and a paean to my favorite city." —Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

"Everything you're hearing about Kira Jane Buxton's Hollow Kingdom--that it's wildly original and inventive, funny and profane--is wonderfully true. But even better, this book is timely, smart, movingly written, and beautifully concluded."—Laurie Frankel, author of This is How It Always Is and member of the Seattle7 Writers

"A hilariously exuberant and heart-bursting fable for our times, Hollow Kingdom reminds us that creativity and determination (and a whole lot of love) can go a long way toward saving the world. When Mr. Rogers said to look for the helpers, who knew that might mean a salty-mouthed crow and a faithful bloodhound?"—Jennie Shortridge, bestselling author of Love Water Memory and member of the Seattle7 Writers

"Hollow Kingdom is a grown-up's Watership Down for our times--or the end of them. Kira Jane Buxton has created a crow so full of personality you won't even miss the company of humans, who are devolving at hyper-speed rates into something sub-literate and grotesque. But Buxton shows there's humor in our plight and strength in tenderness, and she portrays the intelligence and astounding beauty of the natural world in a completely fresh way. This book is a triumphant feat of imagination, and it had me believing that the bonds we've formed with our pets might help them save us after all. I'll never look at a corvid the same way again."—Zoe Zolbrod, author of The Telling and Currency and former editor at The Rumpus

"A plucky hero, a boisterous tale, startling prose and eerie events combine for a thoroughly enjoyable account of the end of the world as we know it. The Secret Life of Pets meets The Walking Dead."—Karen Joy Fowler, PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

"Hollow Kingdom offers a bird's-eye view of the apocalypse we all want and need-especially when the bird in question is a plucky, Cheeto-loving domesticated crow . . . With infinite heart and humor, Kira Jane Buxton's fine-feathered narrator guides us through richly imagined animal realms while braving the terrifying collapse of the human world. A dazzling, wholly original debut, revealing the great paradox of humanity's fatal flaws and resilient spirit."—Mona Awad, author of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl and Bunny

"What a surprising, funny, terrifying, marvelous, wholly original novel! Buxton combines a vivid horror show (think zombies and the gruesome, bloody extinction of man) with a touching love story between the unlikeliest of BFFs: a crow, a hound, and a man who's had a tough go of things on Tinder, and that was before his eyeball fell out. With humor and a style that brings to mind Tom Robbins and Karen Russell, Buxton's debut is heartwarming and heart stopping, hilarious and tragic."—Amy Poeppel, author of Limelight and Small Admissions

"If you've ever thought that humans were the ones in charge, Kira Jane Buxton's groundbreaking novel will have you thinking otherwise. Full of unforgettable humor, insight and beauty, HOLLOW KINGDOM enriches our human experience by inhabiting the minds (and bellies!) of our non-human animal companions and reminding us that we're not alone here on this earth."—Ruth Ozeki, nationally bestselling author of A Tale for the Time Being

"Wow. Hilarious or horrifying? Sassy or wise? Hollow Kingdom is a surprise and a marvel: a razor sharp and satisfying warning about the coming apocalypse, told by one of the most engaging narrators I have met in a long time. Good fiction makes you think. It turns you upside down and makes you realize that you recognize the world from that vantage point. Hollow Kingdom is that good fiction, and so much more." —Rahna Reiko Rizzuto, author of Shadow Child

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