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?
To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
I finished reading this very hyped book—and I wasn’t crippled by disappointment? To quote May: “omg, lily liking a popular book?? is the world still spinning??” It may have stopped for a second, or two.
But, in all seriousness, To Kill a Kingdom is brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect by all means; in fact, I found the initial chapters that introduce us to the world of sirens, mermaids, and the Sea, as well as the world above water with its various kingdoms, a bit dull at times—and I was afraid I’d end up resenting this book.
But much like an avalanche gaining speed, power, and force as it nears the bottom of the slope, I slowly came to be completely enraptured with it, as it turned more and more action-packed, volatile, and grand in every imaginable way.
To Kill a Kingdom is, in its essence, a retelling of the fairytale The Little Mermaid—but the only elements of the story that are adopted from it are that a sea creature is turned into a human girl by an evil witch, and her fate hinges on whether or not she manages to fulfill the witch’s quest. Only, in this book’s case, it’s not a mermaid that is cursed, but a deadly siren, and the evil witch is her mother, the Sea Queen.
Our heroine Lira, a royal siren, and daughter of the Sea Queen, is nothing like the sweet, innocent, gullible Arielle from the fairytale. She’s fierce, ruthless, and bloodthirsty.
“I can’t help but be mesmerized. Such beautiful creatures. Such bewitching, deadly things. Even as they sharpen their fangs on their lips and run taloned hands through their liquid hair, I can’t look away. Everything about them is awful, but nothing about them is hideous.”
Through an unfortunate turn of events, she mistakenly saves Prince Elian instead of killing him by stealing his heart, and so her mother punishes her by turning her into a human girl.
I was honestly so impressed by the development of Elian and Lira’s relationship—the tenuous (mis)trust, the banter, and the initial aversion between them—it was very believable, well-paced, and most significantly, I found myself rooting for them.
“It feels like the worst thing I’ve ever done and the best thing I could ever do and how strange that the two are suddenly the same. How strange that instead of taking his heart, I’m hoping he takes mine.”
To Kill a Kingdom does feel like a debut novel at times, but that somehow only served to reinforce the positive impression it made on me. It was both darker, but also funnier than I expected—it comprised so many clever puns (which I’m a sucker for) and witty quips, and it featured immensely rounded characters who were snarky and endearing, as well as great relationships (bless the bromance in this book!).
All in all, I’m so happy that such a hyped book for once worked out for me.
Have you read this book, and did you enjoy it?
Do you like retellings?
(Send some recommendations of your favorite retellings my way? 💞)