Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton // Book Review

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton // Book Review

Have you ever read anything more hopeful and gorey at the same time? Well, then this unique little novel will definitely intrigue you because it’s pretty much The Secret Life of Pets meets The Walking Dead as the animals the humans leave behind after a zombie apocalypse try to gather their strength and survive. There are many animals that do die and the reason why the humans became zombies was because of an unknown virus spread through their phones, so just keep that in mind if you’re sensitive to animal death and the recent COVID pandemic.

Here’s More about Hollow Kingdom

One pet crow fights to save humanity from an apocalypse in this uniquely hilarious debut from a genre-bending literary 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 (those idiots), and enjoying the finest food humankind has to offer: Cheetos ®.

Then Big Jim’s eyeball falls out of his head, and S.T. starts to feel like something isn’t quite right. His most 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 discovers that the neighbors are devouring each other and the local wildlife is abuzz with rumors of dangerous new predators roaming Seattle. Humanity’s extinction has seemingly arrived, and the only one determined to save it is a foul-mouthed crow whose knowledge of the world around him comes from his TV-watching education.

Hollow Kingdom is a humorous, big-hearted, and boundlessly beautiful romp through the apocalypse and the world that comes after, where even a cowardly crow can become a hero.

My Thoughts

I wholeheartedly loved this one. It was unique, different, and one of thsoe books with some goregous prose to take you away from the rest of the world. The story follows main character, ST (short for Shit Turd). I kid you not, I’m so surprised that I could connect with a crow as a main character. Of course, I can’t fly and I can’t connect to the animal network like they do in the book, but the emotional and mental issues he goes through as he processes what’s happening to him, his murder, and the world around him were so close to human that you couldn’t help but to relate.

The writing is exquisite. You can honestly tell that Kira Jane Buxton is a huge fan of Seattle and this almost reads like a love letter to the city if it were also in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. I’ve never been to Seattle and this book made me really want to go. The depictions of nature, the beauty of the animals as they gather together to survive, and even some of the landmarks were really vivid throughout the story. However, Kira Jane Buxton is also one of those authors who uses her powers for evil and I will tell you now, there are some seriously gross parts in this book. The zombies were gross, the bodies were gross, the decay, the death, all of it was just really nasty. It didn’t bother me much because I’m used to this kind of thing, but I can imagine someone faint of heart having problems stomaching the descriptions in some places. I will warn you now, it gets graphic.

There were also some interesting characters like ST’s dog, Dennis, who’s a bloodhound with so much loyalty for the bird. Then there’s the different animals that get their own chapter. You read this book through the perspective of the animals and each of them has their own views from different parts of the world. I absolutely loved this perspective and reading it through their eyes really made me so happy.

the ending was super surprising as well. Of course I won’t go into detail about it, but it definitely changes course right at the end and for the better.

Overall, this was a good one and if you’re a fan of horror, then I suggest this one to you. I’s fast-paced and easy to read if you can stomach the gruesome descriptions. I loved ST’s mission to save all the domesticated animals who were stuck without help and how that makes ST grow into a much more evolved crow. I kind of wish I waited to read this in October, but maybe I’ll save the second book for then.

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas // Book Review

Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas // Book Review

I’m going to be honest with you, I think I could write an entire research paper about this novel because it is so good with a lot of themes and complex in a way that will make you think. I’m extremely impressed in this debut author and her work. Her writing is eloquent, descriptive, and deceptively literary. Without being confusing or mundane, Elisabeth Thomas creates a utopian world based on transcendentalist philosophy, art, and a little bit of darkness. This is going to be a tough review to write because I don’t want to give the plot away. I feel like this entire book is a spoiler, so read it!

Continue reading “Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas // Book Review”

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia // Book Review

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia // Book Review

I’m a huge fan of gothic literature and horror stories, so when I heard an author combined both, set it in 1950s Mexico, and had it starring a creepy ass house, I was all over it. And let me tell you. It did NOT disappoint.

TW: domestic abuse and violence, attempted sexual assault and harassment, suicide, homicide, and lots of gorey bits and pieces.

mexican gothicThe story follows Noemi, a young socialite who’s days are filled with a pursuit for a degree in anthropology while her nights are filled with champagne and lavish parties and men fawning over her. When she hears her cousin, Catalina, is sick, she decides to take a trip to High Place, the home where Catalina lives with her husband and his family.

However, when Noemi arrives at High Place, things aren’t as they seemed. First off, the town is not like where Noemi came from. It was much smaller than the lights of Mexico City. The house itself is falling apart with mold covering the walls. There’s not enough light coming into the home giving off an ominous feel. Noemi isn’t allowed to leave on her own. She can’t smoke. She can’t speak with her cousin because Catalina is sleeping all the time. In Noemi’s boredom, she starts to figure out what’s happening to her cousin and why this opulent home has fallen into such disarray. When Noemi finally uncovers the secrets of High Place, it becomes more than just a creepy ghost story.

My thoughts

I’m a huge fan of horror stories like this where you think you see something from the corner of your eye, but then you ignore it because it’s probably just your brain. But then that thing starts moving and all of a sudden, you’re not in Kansas anymore. That’s what this book felt like; a scary roller-coaster that once you get down the first hill, you’re basically just along for the ride. Also, gothic is most definitely the right word to explain High Place. The foggy scenes in the graveyard gave me so much Bronte sisters vibes that I was eating it up.

I was really intrigued by Noemi. She’s such a complex character and I loved her dimensions. She was a socialite in many ways, but her studies in anthropology and her inquisitive nature both play major roles in the story as she uncovers the secrets of High Place. I love how her intelligence is always thwarted by someone; some dude coming at her trying to trip her up with eugenics or anthropological theories. With a background like hers and then having her explore High Place looking for answers really made me love Noemi so much more. Having the story centered on her experience brings the readers into the story learning alongside her. It was a good vehicle to keep secrets close to the chest and share SMG’s hand slowly while pacing the novel.

The other characters of this novel also play a huge role in the overall story. You’ve got the ambitious grandson who is waiting for his moment to take over the family business. You’ve got the dying grandfather who doesn’t want to die, but coming to terms with it. You’ve got the big old questions about their family and the house, which makes it so much more intriguing. And then on top of all that, you’ve got Noemi and her cousin Catalina and their role in this entire endeavor. The complexity of their family life was probably the big driver of this story because it was COMPLEX. I don’t know if I would ever want to spend a holiday with these folks. lol.

And I will admit, the pace is definitely a slow burn. However, I never felt bored. The story hints at a lot of different things and felt more like a giant puzzle where the pieces eventually all come together. I love an author that drops hints all throughout the story, but doesn’t make it so obvious so that it becomes a big surprise! I found myself going “omg that thing from before! YES! I GET IT!” which is a very fun feeling for me.

In terms of its spookiness, it’s up there. I will admit that I’ve read scarier in my life, but that doesn’t take away from the atmospheric and suspenseful nature of the story. SMG keeps you guessing all the way to the end and even then I feel like she leaves you questioning whether or not what happened actually happened. I love a good book that questions whether what you read was truth.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.

Books and their Movies: The Shining by Stephen King

Books and their Movies: The Shining by Stephen King

One of my all-time favorite things to do is read a book and compare it to its movie adaptation. Lately, it feels like many books being published are also being picked up for movies or tv series. I could rattle off a list of all the great books made into television or movie adaptations that came out this year.

With that in mind, I wanted to bring a new series to the blog where I compare and contrast the movie to its book. This series will discuss both the book and its subsequent movie or tv show. I won’t be bashing one or the other and I won’t be yelling “the book was better” from the rooftops. It will be spoiler-heavy, so keep that in mind when reading these essays. I just always find it fun to see how Hollywood breaks down a book and what makes it to the big screen.

We all know that the book is always better than the movie, but there are some movies that have been adapted that stand on their own. The first book and movie we’ll be discussing is The Shining by Stephen King.

I read The Shining for the first time this fall. I wanted to finally dive into Stephen King’s horror work and with Doctor Sleep coming out in theaters, I wanted to read this quintessential Stephen King and then watch its movie. Luckily, I had the opportunity to watch the movie on a flight I recently took and couldn’t believe what Stanley Kubrick kept and left out. There were some positive moments for me, but a lot of disappointing ones as well.

Here’s the synopsis of the book

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

Here’s the trailer for The Shining


I think The Shining movie gets a lot of flack around how little it actually adapts from the book. When watching the movie, it definitely felt more like Stanley Kubrick took the horror components of the book and extenuated them.

However, I don’t discount Stanley Kubrick and his way to build atmosphere. The movie builds suspense through high pitch noises and sudden cuts displaying horrific scenes. Despite it not being an exact adaptation of the book, the movie itself was pretty gruesome and scary at points. It definitely filled the quota of suspenseful thriller and if you watch the movie without reading the book, then you’ll see this as one of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces with his camera usage and editing skills.

I feel like if you don’t read the book before you watch the movie you’re going to be super lost. I think the one thing Stanley Kubrick left out that was vital to the story was that the Overlook Hotel feeds off shining energy. It wasn’t clear that Danny was the target here for his exceptional shining powers and I feel like if that was established more, then you would understand why the hotel went after Jack’s mind.

I can just imagine the folks watching this movie when it came out and being completely enamored by Stanley Kubrick’s work. The wall of blood, the completely naked woman, the appearance of ghosts and the edited cut scenes were all probably new and innovative back in the day. The lack of motive probably also lent to the scariness of this movie because watching Jack go from average human to completely mental is very apparent. I just wish it was explained.

But I did appreciate that Kubrick kept essential characters like Dick Halloran (who explains the shining to Danny) and Tony, Danny’s spirit friend. I was worried Dick would play a super small role, but I think Stanley Kubrick understood his importance. Not only in explaining the shining, but also being the person who eventually saves Wendy and Danny from Jack.

I wasn’t a fan of how Danny described Tony as a kid that lives in his mouth and accesses Danny’s finger and voice when he speaks. The book describes him as a voice Danny hears and Danny relays what he says to his parents. I think that I liked the book’s concept of this better because it made it more obvious that Tony is broadcasting directly into Danny’s brain. However, I can see how that can be difficult to display on screen especially when Danny is having conversations with Tony.

I loved how Wendy is portrayed in the movie as well. At first, she seems like a sheepish housewife, but when it came to protecting her son, she changed completely using weapons against her own husband. It was also really clear that Wendy struggled with loving her husband and protecting her son. Although, I felt Wendy was a much stronger character in the book, I really appreciated how strong she was on screen.

I also liked how Stanley Kubrick used a hedge maze instead of animal topiaries. To be honest, I think this was because they didn’t have the technology back then to make CGI topiaries come to life. The maze is also more menacing and the chase scene really built suspense.

Overall, I think both the movie and the book are great but for their separate reasons. The book because of its ability to really get into the mindset of all the characters. The movie because of its ability to artfully display horror in this secluded hotel and how that affects the family living within its walls.

What did you think? Did you like the movie or the book better?