Monday 19 January 2015


Book review: Holy Cow by David Duchovny

My edition: Paperback (proof), to be published on 3 February 2015 by Headline, 206 pages.

Description: Elsie Bovary is a cow and a pretty happy one at that. Until one night, Elsie sneaks out of the pasture and finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God - and what the Box God reveals about something called an 'industrial meat farm' shakes Elsie's understanding of her world to its core.

The only solution? To escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie; Shalom, a grumpy pig who's recently converted to Judaism; and Tom, a suave turkey who can't fly, but can work an iPhone with his beak. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport ...


Holy Cow is a whimsical tale about friendship, religion and the human race as seen through the remarkably insightful eyes of a cow by the name of Elsie Q. (and communicated to her cow-author, American actor David Duchovny).

Elsie is a fairly happy cow living on a farm in the US. She spends her days getting milked, sleeping, eating and gossiping with her BFF Mallory about the bulls, which they feel increasingly interested in. Though her mum disappeared, she knows that all cow mums do so at some stage and she's otherwise pretty content with her unremarkable life. Until The Event.

In a bout of curiosity, Elsie wanders up to the farm house and through the window she watches a shocking documentary on the Box God about the meat industry, which makes it horrifyingly clear what has really happened to her mum and what will happen to her as well if she stays on the farm.

Elsie realises that the only way to escape her terrible fate of being turned into burger patties is to travel to India, where cows are worshiped rather than slaughtered. Several other animals on the farm – a Jewish pig, who refers to himself as Shalom, and a anorexic turkey called Tom – find out about Elsie's plan and decide to join her pilgrimage to escape similar fates. They don human disguises, practice walking on two legs and head for the airport.

It all sounds absolutely mad and it certainly is, but the story is also incredibly clever. Interspersed with remarkably spot on cow-humour and a heavy dose of pop culture references, Holy Cow provides a brutally honest insight into the human perception of the world and our privileged place at the top of the food chain. It managed to make me think and that wasn't what I was expecting from a story focused on a trio of farm animals on a bonkers mission to escape the barbeque.

On top of that, this is one of the funniest books I have ever had the pleasure to read. I gigglesnorted my way through the first few chapters on the train – receiving some interesting looks from fellow passengers – after which the story did became a more serious social commentary, but it never lost the charming, comical voice of Elsie. Who knew that actor David Duchovny could channel a cow so accurately? That's some X-Files right there.

You can pre-order the novel from Waterstones, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:

Twitter: @davidduchovny

Many thanks to the publisher for an advance copy of the novel via Bookbridgr in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow, this sounds absolutely delightful! I only heard about his book earlier today thanks to twitter, but I think I'll definitely have to give it a whirl when it's released after reading your review :)

    - Wattle @ Whimsical Nature


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