Etta

Review: To Kill a Kingdom

Published March 6th 2018, 346 pages

Author: Alexandra Christo

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 and 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?

To Kill A Kingdom is like a reworked dark version of the Little Mermaid (both Disney and Hans Christian Anderson versions) where sirens and pirates come together for a thrilling adventure.  It is not officially a retelling in the synopsis, but it does feel like one. The cover is gorgeous and one of the main reasons I was drawn to this book. After reading the synopsis, I figured that I could not lose as it is almost impossible to resist tales of sea legends, such as mermaids and sirens. This novel builds a fascinating world where sirens rip the hearts from humans for every year of their life and is considered a rite of passage for young sirens. On the other side, there is a siren hunter on the loose who is working to rid the world of the sirens.  This story is a captivating standalone tale of the sea and taking down an evil being.

Lira is a 17-year-old siren princess, also known as the Prince’s Bane.  She has seventeen prince hearts in her room and is planning to obtain her eighteenth for her birthday. The Sea Queen has taught her that fear rules all and that Lira must obey everything her mother says. Any step out of line means punishment from her mother, so Lira is careful to balance being herself and being what her mother wants her to be.  She has a mind of her own and looks out for those she cares about, especially her cousin. As a killer, Lira is made out to be a villain, but you slowly see the humanity in her the more you read each chapter. I love this aspect of the story as Lira could have been made out to be a standard heartless killer, but she was a lot more complex than she initially seemed.

Elian is the Prince of Midas, although he does not wish to pursue the life of a royal and instead prefers the call of the sea and the life of a pirate. He is the captain of his own ship and he loves his adventures and freedom as he and his crew hunt and kill sirens. He learns of the jewel that can destroy the sirens and decides to take his crew on a new adventure to find it. On the way, he finds a girl floating in the sea. He rescues her and becomes both part of the crew and prisoner. Little does he know, that it is Lira who has been turned into a human as a punishment by her mother. Lira’s goal is to steel the prince’s heart by the next Winter Solstice.

Lira and Elian have excellent banter and I love every interaction they have. As both of them are extremely strong, dark, and smart in their own ways, they both are on equal ground. As a reader, you can see how these two characters would make a great match. Neither character is perfect nor they both have their own flaws, but they try their best to understand the other slowly over time. Neither trusts the other, but there is something that intrigues them to learn more, which help make this an excellent enemy to lovers’ story.  Both Elian and Lira have excellent interactions with the rest of the crew, especially Kye and Madrid.  Elian’s crew was beyond fantastic as they stole the scene every time they were mentioned and they had a great sense of community where they looked out for each other even when they disagreed. Kye and Madrid were very entertaining and I would not mind a spin-off novel featuring them as I loved reading every page that included them.

The adventure was entertaining and the entire journey was thrilling. The writing flows well as it is moves from one event to the next. Although the chapters switch between Elian and Lira’s points of views, the events continue forward without repeating. The story is very detailed as it seemed that every single piece of the journey was described, which can make the pacing slow. There were times where I wished we could either reduce some of the detail or eliminate some pieces entirely as some of the details did not add anything to the story and were just there for world-building. The beginning of the novel does this, as well, where the world of sirens, mermaids, etc. is described in a lot of detail. Although I loved learning about the worlds, both human and sea, I felt that there could have been a little less and the story would have kept the same overall feel.

This story does a great job changing the Little Mermaid story as the mermaids are the eels who talk to Lira about her dreams. Lira does end up on a beach as one time with Elian, but it is not a loving scene as she is attempting to rip his heart out while he is unconscious.  Ursula with the tentacles is combined with Triton and his magical trident to create the character of the Sea Queen.  I loved that it was not a straight retelling and took out a whole twist to make it an original. This story was very entertaining and I found myself wanting to see how it all turns out. The ending does feel rushed as there is a lot squeezed into the last portion of the book. Ideally, I would have taken out some of the previous details and spent more pages dedicated to the ending. It was still a cute ending, but it was not the exact ending that I wanted as it felt too simple for these more complicated characters. Overall, I would read more from this author as the story was an intriguing tale of adventure and sea lore.

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