Kira Jane Buxton's debut, Hollow Kingdom, offers a unique, oddly hopeful perspective on the end of human civilization ... In its broadest strokes, Hollow Kingdom is an environmentalist parable ... If this all sounds very weighty, it's important to emphasize that Hollow Kingdom is an extremely funny, occasionally silly book. The reader will need to possess an appreciation—or, at least, a tolerance—for copious animal puns ... S.T.'s witty commentary is a highlight of the book, though so frequently profane that it resists quotation. What makes Hollow Kingdom special is the ease with which Buxton offsets heavy themes with humor. At the heart of the novel is an entertaining adventure story ... S.T.'s relationship with Dennis achieves pathos and an incredibly earned emotional denouement that I would have never predicted at the start of the novel. Hollow Kingdom is a surprising, funny, genre-bending novel, an environmentalist parable crossed with an epic adventure story, difficult to describe and even more difficult to put down.
Buxton’s story about the collapse of mankind...though based around the extinction of man is not your average zombie story. It’s less a story about the end of the world as we know it, as it is a call to liberate ourselves from our own domestication, much like that which S.T. and his companions face. It’s a critical look at the impact the human ego has had on the environment and the cost we’ll leave to future inhabitants, human or otherwise, to pay. And, it’s told from the perspective of a life force we’ve caged as wholly as we’ve caged ourselves, making it a poignant portrayal of the beauty we fail to see around us on an everyday basis as well as a stark glimpse of the future we are already carving out for ourselves. For all its sharp edges and gritty no-punches-pulled humor, Hollow Kingdom is a remarkably tender story that manages to make you feel just a tiny bit jealous of the resilient cast of characters that have survived humanity's apocalypse. It’s a magnum opus on environmental degradation, an expose on the impact of technological dependency, and—above all else—a testament to the bizarre and indelicate beauty of rewilding. (And, I would be remiss without adding, it is the single most beautiful ode to the infallible and unconditional companionship of dog I might have ever read.)
... Buxton takes a joyfully original approach to apocalyptic fiction ... don't read this book while you're eating if you're squeamish. Buxton is extremely talented at writing the more horrifying descriptions of the MoFos' physical condition ... S.T. is a brilliant narrator, partially because he has reverence for human things like Cheetos and baked goods and football fandom, but also because he has only half a grasp on what certain human things mean ... But S.T.'s love of MoFos, and the deep ache he feels for Big Jim and the life he used to lead read as incredibly sincere ... While it's deeply disconcerting, reading about our own extinction, there is a lot we can learn from S.T. and Dennis the dog's symbiotic relationship in this novel. There's a lot we can learn from S.T.'s getting over his own prejudices about other animals — like seagulls and penguins — in order to work with them ... S.T. ultimately gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, we still have a chance to turn things around before Nature is so fed up that she really does set her sights on destroying us for good.