There isn’t much that surprises me anymore, living in the 21st century and all. Memes can now be purchased for millions of dollars, we very much live in a world with robots, and headlines like this are far too commonplace. But Kira Jane Buxton’s first novel, Hollow Kingdom, genuinely surprised me, and her second novel Feral Creatures is just as wild of a ride.
Everyone’s favorite crowtagonist is back for another death-defying romp around the Pacific Northwest (emphasis on the north). When we last saw S.T., he had just concluded his quest to save domestic pets from screen-loving zombies, Buxton’s take on the next evolutionary cycle for humankind. Along the way, we said a tearful goodbye to Dennis (I’m still teary just thinking about it); discovered that while you can take the crow out of the wild, you can’t take the wild out of the crow; and fought nail-biting battles of epic proportions.
In this next installment, S.T. once again comes beak-to-beak with the kind of hard truths you can only find on a bonafide hero’s journey. Now, with Dee, the last human (a.k.a. MoFo) on Earth, in tow, S.T. is tasked with protecting the last of a dying species from new mutant threats. Will he successfully save humankind from extinction? No spoilers here!
At this point, zombies are overrated. The end of the world has been fictionalized too many times to count. And everyday real-life already feels so apocalyptic, what’s the point of diving deeper into doomsday with new imaginative retellings? Or so I wrongfully thought. With Feral Creatures, Buxton once again has done the impossible, penning yet another novel so refreshing, so hilarious, yet so unnecessarily heartbreaking.
While I wasn’t sure if I would ever pick up another novel after enjoying Hollow Kingdom’s chapters written in the third poodle or told in the meditations of a polar bear (I still cry) or voiced in the Scottish brogue of a Highland cow — side note: I could have read a whole novel from Angus’ POV; don’t get me wrong, I love Shite Turd (see what I did there?), but no one has ever captured my wee heart quite like Angus — Buxton has made sure that this is not the case. She has returned with all the prosaic goods she first introduced readers to in Hollow Kingdom, only somehow with impossibly higher stakes. Again, no spoilers—but there is a hilarious poem overheard and transcribed by a spotted ratfish, Genghis Cat is back baby, and my favorite character (see above) is exposed as an unreliable narrator.
With a new cast of furry friends and some cameos from old foes, Feral Creatures transplants readers into the most thrilling episode of Our Planet yet. As you journey through the wilds of Alaska, swim across the Bering Sea and arrive back at Seattle, S.T. will make you laugh, cry, and want to give unsolicited parenting advice as he bumbles through this next chapter of his life.
In this second installment, S.T. annoyingly asserts humanity is worth saving — even though, as a species, we’re literally the worst ever. If you need to be reminded of your greatness, look no further than S.T., whose pick-me-ups we all need when we succumb to the existential dread of The Black Tide.
With Hollow Kingdom and Feral Creatures, Buxton has created a series that sparkles with the possibilities that await readers if they simply add a little imagination to a couple of classic tropes, including zombies, the apocalypse, and climate change. This horror-meets-comedy series is so unique that I’m starting one of those blind book date Etsy shops, but the only books I send out are Hollow Kingdom and Feral Creatures.
Feral Creatures is the kind of book that grabs the hand of the unlucky soul who just so happens to be standing next to it when disaster strikes only to then take them on one hell of a journey they most certainly did not sign up for. And that’s the best part about it.
Trust me, you won’t eat crow with this series. So, hold out your hand (or your wing!) and get ready for the read of your life.
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