Genre: Fantasy, YA, Retelling
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: March 6th 2018
My Rating: 5 Cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.*Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Hot Key Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not influence my rating or the content of my review in any way.
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?
Growing up my favorite Disney movie by far was The Little Mermaid. Then I got my hands on the original Andersen fairytale and I was even more in love with the story and the myth of mermaids. After vampires and werewolves, mermaids are my favorite mythical creatures, so whenever a novel that has at its center these magnificent creatures, I get excited and slightly scared because I have high expectations. I can't describe how high my expectations were when I started reading this book, but let me tell you this book managed to exceed them very very easily.
To Kill A Kingdom is basically a Little Mermaid retelling, a combination of both the animated movie and the original fairytale that I really loved, with a lot of darker tones than I thought possible. The mythology of the world created by Christo is very unique and fresh to me, and I really enjoyed discovering it.
To Kill A Kingdom is about Lira and Elian, two unlikely heroes in their own way, on their quest to end the war between humans and sirens. Lira, also known as the Princes' Bane, is a morally ambiguous siren, punished by her mother, the Sea Queen, to live as a human. I didn't know what to make of Lira at first. She goes from being a feared prince-hunter to weak human to worthy heroine as the story progresses and I really loved they way she grew with the plot. I was certain she was going to be a villain until the end, but I'm glad she wasn't. She definitely surprised me in a good way. She had the street-smarts that Ariel lacked, and I loved Lira because of it. She was very strong, very resourceful, very snarky and very unintentionally funny. She amused me a lot and I'm sure she wasn't even trying to be funny most of the time but I did find her funny. Then as the story goes on and her backstory is revealed and she herself remembers it, I discovered this new layer about her and this new side of her that I didn't expect. Lira herself is reminded about that side of hers only after her mother decides to punish her, so it's kind of ironic in a way, that her punishment served to help her discover her humanity, instead of getting rid of it like her mother was hoping.
Elian is definitely my favorite YA hero so far. He is the firstborn son of a king, which means that he is the first in line to become king, yet he doesn't want to be one. I think if he could have it his way, he wouldn't even be a prince. He definitely loves being a pirate and a siren killer a lot more than he likes being a prince. This dichotomy is seen all throughout the book, because there are situations in which his royal status comes in handy in getting him and his crew in and out of certain places and situations. But despite that, the members of his crew treat him like an equal and they are loyal to him because of what he does for them and because he protects and loves each and every one of them, not because he has status over them. He doesn't flaunt the fact that he comes from a royal family and I loved that about him. In fact on more than one occasion he tries to make everyone forget that he is royalty.
Aside from sirens, mermaids and magic, there's a really interesting theme of ones true identity in this book. There's Lira, with her questioning whether she's evil or good, there's Elian struggling between his royal status and his desire to be a pirate and be free of the confines and limitations that living on land has, and there's also the age-old good vs evil battle. I liked that about the book, and I welcomed every instance in which the identity of the players was put to question or was explored.
The plot is pretty evenly paced, and there's no such thing as insta-love in this book, which made me very very happy. The story is told from both Elian and Lira's POVs, so we get to see the story unfolding from both the siren-hunter and the prince-killer perspectives. I enjoyed that a lot. I was also surprised by how well this book works as a standalone. I wasn't expecting that, but there's so much detail, so much depth, so much complexity in this one book, that it is almost more detailed and more powerful than a trilogy or a duology or a series. I wouldn't be myself if I didn't say that I wanted a sequel. Maybe not with Lira and Elian at the center, maybe they could be secondary characters, and I definitely have a few ideas on who might be the main characters for a sequel, so I'll keep wishing and crossing my fingers that a sequel will be a thing.
All in all, I definitely enjoyed this book and I fell in love with Christo's writing style. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and mermaids.