Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Release Date: March 6th 2018
Tags: Fantasy / Young Adult / Retelling / Little Mermaid / King Midas / Sirens / Mermaids / Merman / Trigger Warning / Abuse
Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
When I first saw this on Netgalley I was so sure it was not going to be for me with that synopsis. It just didn’t quite appeal to me. After seeing so many people absolutely rave about this book however I was curious, and here we are. And hey, I can see why so many people loved it. I really took a liking to it myself. Just not as much as everyone else. I have a few bits and pieces that I wasn’t quite so taken with.
To Kill a Kingdom is a retelling of the Little Mermaid, loosely anyway. Because our main character is not a mermaid but a siren. One of those that kills people. They are vicious and a small cold war is happening between the kingdoms and the sea queen. When Lyra, the sea queen’s daughter, does something unfavorable in her mother’s eyes she is punished by being turned into a human with the mission to kill the human prince that is also known as the siren killer.
But that is just where it starts. In its dept this is a tale of two people that are trying to find their way out of the clutches of their parents expectations that weigh them down. As a human it is easier for Lyra to see what her mother was doing to her. How she abused her. Adding onto that ongoing action and adventure it gives a very rich and quick paced
World building wise I think that it certainly stands for the amount of pages that the book has. It is, for as far as I can tell, a standalone with less than 400 pages. That is not a crazy amount to tell a story like this in but the author managed that splendidly. However deep down I wish we had gotten just a bit more world building. Because of right now this world and these kingdoms are quite forgettable to me. I want to know more of the 100 kingdoms and about the treaty that was signed. But I also see potential for more standalone stories being set into this world that could build onto this. In any case I did enjoy the reference we got to King Midas.
‘Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.’
Character wise I loved Lyra. She is a siren who is vicious and goal driven. She is the next in line to become the sea queen and as such has a lot to live up to with her mother. I quite enjoyed her bite and claws. She never becomes unlikeable. She just is who she is. The longer she is human the more she starts to question that if this is who she is or that her mother made her this way. I think this is always an interesting question, the nature vs nurture discussion. I do have one point of beef and that is that she is called Princes’ Bane as she only kills princes. You’d think she kills them monthly but just once a year. Since she was 13.
I liked Elian but he just seems like the typical prince who is barely 18 and a captain of a ship with a bunch of ‘pirates’ that are extremely loyal to him that he earned. Whatever did he do to earn to get the loyalty of 200 men like that? Especially as they are pirates. And I am using this word loosely , because come on, they are not pirates. And as an heir I can’t imagine a king so easily letting him do whatever he pleases.
The romance was okay. I wanted to ship them but their hate to love went a little too fast all of a sudden. The book was quite frankly too short for it to properly simmer between them. But their witty banter was amazing and I’d reread the book just for that.