Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: March 6th 2018
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 unsavoury 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?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
For every year she has been alive Lira has taken a human heart, and as siren royalty only the hearts of human princes will do. She is well known as the Princes’ Bane but when she gets greedy and takes a heart before her time she is punished, and to get back on the good side of the Sea Queen Lira decided to go after the prince who has been hunting her kind. However she is not the only one seeking Prince Elian’s heart and when she kills one of her own kind she is banished to the human world and robbed of her song.
The main things that drew me to this week were the fact that it was recommend for fans of Marissa Meyer and Sarah J. Maas, and that it’s a fairytale inspired book retelling the story of The Little Mermaid. From the beginning I was hooked as we followed Lira, first to help her cousin steal her own heart, and then in a desperate bid to earn her mother’s forgiveness.
Elian has dedicated his life to hunting down sirens and now he is determined to track down the Prince’s Bane and end her life, but when he hears tale of a mythical crystal that can end the life of the Sea Queen, and all sirens, his goal changes. Then he comes across a girl drowning in the middle of the ocean and despite not knowing whether he can trust Lira, who seems human but knows more about sirenkind than anyone else, he is willing to make a deal. As for Lira her goal remains the same, deliver the heart of Prince Elian before the solstice and earn her mother’s forgiveness.
There was a lot at stake for both main characters, and having To Kill a Kingdom told through both Lira’s and Elian’s POV meant we got to see what drove those characters as the story unfolded. As far as standalones go there was a lot packed into this one book; To Kill a Kingdom was fast paced and while I do wish certain aspects had been better developed and given a little more page time I never felt lost as the story unfolded and we explored the world alongside Lira and Elian.
Lira has had her whole life moulded by her cruel mother. She’s always hunted princes, believing the potential she can take from them makes their hearts the only one’s worthy of her, and never receiving any kindness from the Sea Queen has turned her into a cold person. Lira knows better than to care about anyone and she is determined to let nothing come between her and her end goal, be it Elian’s heart or taking the eye and its power for herself.
There have been times in other books when I’ve struggled to connect to characters like Lira, but for some reason that wasn’t the case in To Kill a Kingdom. I loved reading her story and seeing the changes her character went through the more time she spent away from her mother, far from the control of the Sea Queen, with Elian and his crew. Lira does care about people, but the harsh lessons her mother taught her have been well learnt, and Lira knows it’s better to shield her heart.
Elian wants nothing more than to spend his life sailing alongside his crew, hunting sirens, but the demands of being a prince keep calling on him. Every time he returns home he feels the weight on his shoulders but he has to face the fact that one day soon he’ll have to give up the sea and take the throne. He makes some hard sacrifices in this book, but he believes it will all be worth it if he can get the crystal. Like Lira Elian is a determined character, and he will stop at nothing to end sirenkind.
The relationship between Lira and Elian is a slow one to develop. At the start they’re working against one another; Lira seeking Elian’s heart and Elian seeking a way to end Lira’s kind, even if he doesn’t realise she’s anything but human. However they both begrudgingly accept that they need each other. The more time that passes the more their relationship develops, but Lira remains conscious of the fact that she is Elian’s enemy; even if she looks human she is still the Prince’s Bane.
While the individual character development was really well done I didn’t feel the same about the relationships both main characters had. I enjoyed reading about Lira’s bond with her cousin, but Elian’s relationships with his crew and his family didn’t work as well. It was the same with the growing relationship between Elian and Lira. It struck me as very sudden in places, the development started slow but sometimes it went too fast when taking into account who they are as individuals.
On one hand the world building in To Kill a Kingdom was really well written. I loved exploring the worlds and the different countries Elian travelled to on his journey for the crystal, and I enjoyed the myths and the small glimpses we got into the histories of the different kingdoms, both on the land and under the sea. The only downside was that it felt shallow. I mentioned earlier in my review that it felt like there was a lot packed into this one book, and it’s easy to see that when it comes to the world building. Where some of the history and politics, or even the kingdoms themselves, could have been expanded on and better developed there just wasn’t room.
To Kill a Kingdom was a good book, and it’s definitely one I’d recommend if you’re a fan of fairytale retellings. For the most part the character development and world building was good, I’d just hoped for a little more. It was definitely a solid standalone, I loved the way Lira and Elian’s story ended, and it’s nice not having to wait for the next book in the series to find out what will happen next as well.
What did you think of To Kill a Kingdom? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.
All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.