Writing this feels so weird since I haven’t written a review in a long time. But I feel like I’ve gotten (a part) of my life back on track, and I’m now back in a relationship and made a new good friend (who is probably reading this. Know that you’re just a guest in this house and I will not make breakfast for you). So yeah, pretty good life. But enough about me! This book was one of the most recent books that I’ve read that got me through this no-book slump.
Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Publication Date: March 6th, 2018
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retellings
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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?
Okay, so this book has been on my TBR for the most part of the year since there was a craze of The Little Mermaid retellings, and I saw a blogger (I forgot who, sorry 😦 ) mention that this was the best out of all of them. Then I mentioned this book to my boyfriend, who loved it and has bugged me to read it ever since.
PSA: This book is not about mermaids, it’s about sirens. The author put so much into the world building, and even though it’s sort of a retelling, it’s so much more than that. There are different kingdoms, and each kingdom has a lore or legend related to the royalties of that kingdom. For example, it was said that the Midasan royalty, very fitting name, by the way, because, get this, has gold for blood. Which is bull because Elian, the prince, never bleeds gold. It’s amazing how these legends get incorporated into the story. There’s also a bigger battle going on, involving a dead Goddess and the war between human and sirens, but I don’t want to give that away. You just have to read it, because, again, the world building is a-ma-zing!!!!
The sirens, whose description you will see into the book, are a different species than the mermaids, and Lira, our main character, is definitely not someone who wants to get feet just to get her prince charming. Which brings us to the next point…
Lira is mean. She is cruel and unforgiving, and she is the heir to the Sea Queen. That’s the information you get right off the bat. And I love her so much. I might be biased because I love it when the main characters are like this. All she wants to do is to live up to her mother’s expectations and be the perfect heir she wants her to be: which is to not feel any emotions like pity and love, because those emotions are humans, and sirens are supposed to be better than that. Once the story progresses though, we see that just because Lira is like that, doesn’t mean she was born that way, it was because she was raised that way. And I think that really makes us ponder, that everyone, no matter if it’s fictional or no, was not born evil, but it was the circumstances that make us who we are today. That was mildly philosophical, but you get my gist.
I really love how the author creates characters that are so multifaceted. I ended up loving Lira, and also Elian, the human prince whose heart Lira wanted to rip out, and how their characters develop over the course of the story, and (spoiler alert but not really) how they fell in love with each other. It was subtle, and it was definitely not out of character at all. Heck, they both treated the other like crap in the beginning. Elian even put her in a crystal cage to keep her prisoner. Definitely not your typical romantic cruise idea.
The fighting and gory scenes were to die for. This is very refreshing, seeing the author describe the scene in such wonderful detail, like how when Lira sees a siren captured for the first time, who just happens to be her rival. How she delights in seeing the siren suffer and beg for mercy. How all the pirates on deck didn’t want to watch, and Lira thought it was such a shame that the siren gets killed so quickly. And this was just one scene out of many!
So yeah, this book is not just a retelling, but the original fairytale still somewhat holds, and there’s another lore inside this (I tried finding this lore in other mythologies, but couldn’t find it, so I assumed it was what the author came up with):
Any human who takes a siren’s heart will be immune to the power of their song.
This kept on screeching at me to no end, because okay how the heck is this book going to have a happy ending???? Spoiler alert: It does have a happy ending. So if you haven’t read this book, and you like books where the main characters are just amazing, with character development that’s so realistic, a relationship that makes your heart sing like the song of the sirens, and just wonderful world-building, this is the book.