To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Just a heads up, this review has some spoilers in it! Read at your own risk!
I enjoyed most of To Kill a Kingdom, but the first half felt a little slow for me and I had some trouble getting into it at the beginning. For me, this was probably because I’ve recently finished both Daughter of the Pirate King and Daughter of the Siren Queen, so I’ve read a lot of siren/pirate things recently. If I would’ve waited a bit more before reading this, I don’t think it would’ve taken me so long to get into it.
The whole idea of the story is so intriguing, it’s kind of a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but instead of following mermaids, this follows sirens, so it’s much darker and bloodier than that. (Of course, I’m talking the Disney version of The Little Mermaid).
To Kill a Kingdom follows two perspectives. The first of these is Lira, who is the daughter of the Sea Queen. Every year, she takes the heart of a prince and has earned herself the title of Princes’ Bane. Lira is cruel and coldhearted, and we eventually learn that this is because of how her mother abuses her.
The second perspective we get is that of Elian, who is the prince of Midas. Yes, Midas, where everything is made of gold and the royalty has golden blood. Except that isn’t quite true, as we find out that it’s all a show and it’s really gold paint and the golden blood is a lie. Elian is the heir to the throne, but he doesn’t want it. He just wants to be able to sail the seas with his crew hunting down sirens.
The two first come together when the Sea Queen orders Lira to take the heart of a sailor as punishment for taking a heart before her birthday. For Lira, it is the ultimate insult to have to take the heart of someone that is not a prince, so in order to get back into her mother’s good graces, she decides to take the heart of the siren hunting prince instead.
Eventually, the Sea Queen finds out and as punishment for Lira, she is turned into a human and is ordered to take Elian’s heart as a human to prove that Lira is worthy of being the heir to the siren’s kingdom.
I loved the chemistry between Lira and Elian, their banter was enjoyable and witty. They start off as enemies: Lira is mean, hardheaded, and basically an all around pain in the ass. However, even though we are supposed to look at her like she is one of the villains of the story, it’s really hard to see her that way as you watch her struggle with knowing that her mother is just waiting for her to fail so she can punish her even more. Elian is a good contrast to Lira, despite coming off as a scheming, thieving pirate, he really cares deeply about his crew and doesn’t enjoy killing sirens, he sees it more as his duty to kill them.
One of my favorite tropes of all time is the enemies-to-lovers trope, especially when it includes witty banter and is more of a slow burn up to the point where the two characters realize that they actually love each other. I loved how they helped and protected each other throughout the book, especially in the final battle after Elian realizes that the girl that he is falling in love with is actually the siren he has sworn to kill.
Another thing that I really found enjoyable was the way that both sirens and mermaids were portrayed. While the sirens were more human like than the mermaids, they were utterly deadly, with fangs and claws and extremely powerful. Mermaids are more fish than humans, and are more grotesque. The mermen are even more deadly and serve as warriors for the Sea Queen. Mermaids even lay eggs like fish do, further showing that they are completely different from the sirens.
I especially loved the ending, and how when Lira became the Sea Queen she completely changed how sirens interact with humans and I absolutely loved her character arc and how she went from deadly siren that doesn’t care about anyone but herself, to a (still deadly) Sea Queen that wants to show the world that sirens don’t have to be feared.
To Kill a Kingdom was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018, and for the most part, it lived up to that expectation. As I said at the beginning, I had a hard time getting into it, but once I reached the final battle I really got into it and flew through the rest of the book. If I were to give any recommendations, it would be to not read this right after finishing any similar books, as it can seem super repetitive!