This action-packed YA debut pits a deadly siren princess and a siren-hunting human prince against each other as they fight to protect their kingdoms.
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 mosta human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and 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 hobbyit’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 goodbut can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Alexandra Christo's young adult novel To Kill a Kingdom is a thrilling fantasy adventure.
"With well-crafted fight scenes and vivid descriptions, Christo has created a world of beauty and monstrosity that will draw readers in." Publishers Weekly
"Fantasy fans will like the idea of sirens and piratelike princes as the characters who are imaginative and well developed." School Library Journal
|Publisher:||Feiwel & Friends|
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn't be a fairy. She has a BA in Creative Writing and works as a copywriter in London, both of which make her sound more grown up than she feels. When she's not busy making up stories, she can be found buying far too many cushions and organizing food crawls all over the city. Alexandra currently lives in Hertfordshire with an abundance of cacti (because they're the only plants she can keep alive). To Kill a Kingdom is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
I have a heart for every year I've been alive.
There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they're still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It's not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there's one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it's power.
I've heard things: tales of lost hearts and harpooned women stapled to the ocean bed as punishment for their treachery. Left to suffer until their blood becomes salt and they dissolve to sea foam. These are the women who take the human bounty of their kin. Mermaids more fish than flesh, with an upper body to match the decadent scales of their fins.
Unlike sirens, mermaids have stretched blue husks and limbs in place of hair, with a jawlessness that lets their mouths stretch to the size of small boats and swallow sharks whole. Their deep-blue flesh is dotted with fins that spread up their arms and spines. Fish and human both, with the beauty of neither.
They have the capacity to be deadly, like all monsters, but where sirens seduce and kill, mermaids remain fascinated by humans. They steal trinkets and follow ships in hopes that treasure will fall from the decks. Sometimes they save the lives of sailors and take nothing but charms in return. And when they steal the hearts we keep, it isn't for power. It's because they think that if they eat enough of them, they might become human themselves.
I hate mermaids.
My hair snakes down my back, as red as my left eye — and only my left, of course, because the right eye of every siren is the color of the sea they were born into. For me, that's the great sea of Diávolos, with waters of apple and sapphire. A selection of each so it manages to be neither. In that ocean lies the sea kingdom of Keto.
It's a well-known fact that sirens are beautiful, but the bloodline of Keto is royal and with that comes its own beauty. A magnificence forged in salt water and regality. We have eyelashes born from iceberg shavings and lips painted with the blood of sailors. It's a wonder we even need our song to steal hearts.
"Which will you take, cousin?" Kahlia asks in Psáriin.
She sits beside me on the rock and stares at the ship in the distance. Her scales are deep auburn and her blond hair barely reaches her breasts, which are covered by a braid of orange seaweed.
"You're ridiculous," I tell her. "You know which."
The ship plows idly along the calm waters of Adékaros, one of the many human kingdoms I've vowed to rid of a prince. It's smaller than most and made from scarlet wood that represents the colors of their country.
Humans enjoy flaunting their treasures for the world, but it only makes them targets for creatures like Kahlia and me, who can easily spot a royal ship. After all, it's the only one in the fleet with the painted wood and tiger flag. The only vessel on which the Adékarosin prince ever sails.
Easy prey for those in the mood to hunt.
The sun weighs on my back. Its heat presses against my neck and causes my hair to stick to my wet skin. I ache for the ice of the sea, so sharp with cold that it feels like glorious knives in the slits between my bones.
"It's a shame," says Kahlia. "When I was spying on him, it was like looking at an angel. He has such a pretty face."
"His heart will be prettier."
Kahlia breaks into a wild smile. "It's been an age since your last kill, Lira," she teases. "Are you sure you're not out of practice?"
"A year is hardly an age."
"It depends who's counting."
I sigh. "Then tell me who that is so I can kill them and be done with this conversation."
Kahlia's grin is ungodly. The kind reserved for moments when I am at my most dreadful, because that's the trait sirens are supposed to value most. Our awfulness is treasured. Friendship and kinship taught to be as foreign as land. Loyalty reserved only for the Sea Queen.
"You are a little heartless today, aren't you?" "Never," I say. "There are seventeen under my bed."
Kahlia shakes the water from her hair. "So many princes you've tasted."
She says it as though it's something to be proud of, but that's because Kahlia is young and has taken only two hearts of her own. None of them royalty. That's my specialty, my territory. Some of Kahlia's reverence is for that. The wonder of whether the lips of a prince taste different from those of any other human. I can't say, for princes are all I've ever tasted.
Ever since our goddess, Keto, was killed by the humans, it's become custom to steal a heart each year, in the month of our birth. It's a celebration of the life Keto gave to us and a tribute of revenge for the life the humans took from her. When I was too young to hunt, my mother did it for me, as is tradition. And she always gave me princes. Some as young as I was. Others old and furrowed, or middle children who never had a chance at ruling. The king of Armonía, for instance, once had six sons, and for my first few birthdays, my mother brought me one each year.
When I was eventually old enough to venture out on my own, it hadn't occurred to me to forgo royalty and target sailors like the rest of my kind did, or even hunt the princes who would one day assume their thrones. I'm nothing if not a loyal follower of my mother's traditions.
"Did you bring your shell?" I ask.
Kahlia scoops her hair out of the way to show the orange seashell looped around her neck. A similar one just a few shades bloodier dangles from my own throat. It doesn't look like much, but it's the easiest way for us to communicate. If we hold them to our ears, we can hear the sound of the ocean and the song of the Keto underwater palace we call home. For Kahlia, it can act as a map to the sea of Diávolos if we're separated. We're a long way from our kingdom, and it took nearly a week to swim here. Since Kahlia is fourteen, she tends to stay close to the palace, but I was the one to decide that should change, and as the princess, my whims are as good as law.
"We won't get separated," Kahlia says.
Normally, I wouldn't mind if one of my cousins were stranded in a foreign ocean. As a whole, they're a tedious and predictable bunch, with little ambition or imagination. Ever since my aunt died, they've become nothing more than adoring lackeys for my mother. Which is ridiculous, because the Sea Queen is not there to be adored. She's there to be feared.
"Remember to pick just one," I instruct. "Don't lose your focus."
Kahlia nods. "Which one?" she asks. "Or will it sing to me when I'm there?"
"We'll be the only ones singing," I say. "It'll enchant them all, but if you lay your focus on one, they'll fall in love with you so resolutely that even as they drown, they'll scream of nothing but your beauty."
"Normally the enchantment is broken when they start to die," Kahlia says.
"Because you focus on them all, and so deep down they know that none of them are your heart's desire. The trick is to want them as much as they want you."
"But they're disgusting," says Kahlia, though it doesn't sound like she believes it so much as she wants me to think that she does. "How can we be expected to desire them?"
"Because you're not just dealing with sailors now. You're dealing with royalty, and with royalty comes power. Power is always desirable."
"Royalty?" Kahlia gapes. "I thought ..."
She trails off. What she thought was that princes were mine and I didn't share. That's not untrue, but where there are princes, there are kings and queens, and I've never had much use for either of those. Rulers are easily deposed. It's the princes who hold the allure. In their youth. In the allegiance of their people. In the promise of the leader they could one day become. They are the next generation of rulers, and by killing them, I kill the future. Just as my mother taught me.
I take Kahlia's hand. "You can have the queen. I've no interest in the past."
Kahlia's eyes are alight. The right holds the same sapphire of the Diávolos Sea I know well, but the left, a creamy yellow that barely stands out from the white, sparkles with a rare glee. If she steals a royal heart for her fifteenth, it'll be sure to earn her clemency from my mother's perpetual rage.
"And you'll take the prince," says Kahlia. "The one with the pretty face."
"His face makes no difference." I drop her hand. "It's his heart I'm after."
"So many hearts." Her voice is angelic. "You'll soon run out of room to bury them all."
I lick my lips. "Maybe," I say. "But a princess must have her prince."
The ship feels rough under the spines of my fingers. The wood is splintered, paint cracking and peeling over the body. It cuts the water in a way that is too jagged. Like a blunt knife, pressing and tearing until it slices through. There is rot in places and the stench makes my nose wrinkle.
It is a poor prince's ship.
Not all royals are alike. Some are furnished in fine clothes, unbearably heavy jewels so large that they drown twice as fast. Others are sparsely dressed, with only one or two rings and bronze crowns painted gold. Not that it matters to me. A prince is a prince, after all.
Kahlia keeps to my side, and we swim with the ship while it tears through the sea. It's a steady speed and one we easily match. This is the agonizing wait, as humans become prey. Some time passes before the prince finally steps onto the deck and casts his eye at the ocean. He can't see us. We're far too close and swim far too fast. Through the ship's wake, Kahlia looks to me and her eyes beg the question. With a smile as good as any nod, I return my cousin's stare.
We emerge from the froth and part our lips.
We sing in perfect unison in the language of Midas, the most common human tongue and one each siren knows well. Not that the words matter. It's the music that seduces them. Our voices echo into the sky and roll back through the wind. We sing as though there is an entire chorus of us, and as the haunting melody ricochets and climbs, it swirls into the hearts of the crew until finally the ship slows to a stop.
"Do you hear it, Mother?" asks the prince. His voice is high and dreamlike.
The queen stands next to him on the deck. "I don't think ..." Her voice falters as the melody strokes her into submission. It's a command, and every human has come to a stop, bodies frozen as their eyes search the seas. I set my focus on the prince and sing more softly. Within moments his eyes fall to mine.
"Gods," he says. "It's you."
He smiles and from his left eye slips a single tear.
I stop singing and my voice turns to a gentle hum.
"My love," the prince says, "I've found you at last."
He grips the ratlines and peers far over the edge, his chest flat against the wood, one hand reaching out to touch me. He's dressed in a beige shirt, the strings loose at his chest, sleeves torn and slightly moth-bitten. His crown is thin gold leaf that looks as though it could break if he moves too quickly. He looks desolate and poor.
But then there is his face.
Soft and round, with skin like varnished wood and eyes a penetrating shade darker. His hair swings and coils tightly on his head, a beautiful mess of loops and spirals. Kahlia was right; he's angelic. Magnificent, even. His heart will make a fine trophy.
"You are so beautiful," says the queen, staring down at Kahlia with reverence. "I'm unsure how I've ever considered another."
Kahlia's smile is primordial as she reaches out to the queen, beckoning her to the ocean.
I turn back to the prince, who is frantically stretching out his hand to me. "My love," he pleads. "Come aboard."
I shake my head and continue to hum. The wind groans with the lullaby of my voice.
"I'll come to you then!" he shouts, as though it was ever a choice.
With a gleeful smile, he flings himself into the ocean, and with the splash of his body comes a second, which I know to be the queen, throwing herself to my cousin's mercy. The sounds of their falls awaken something in the crew, and in an instant they are screaming.
They lean over the ship's edge, fifty of them clinging to ropes and wood, watching the spectacle below with horror. But none dare throw themselves overboard to save their sovereigns. I can smell their fear, mixed with the confusion that comes from the sudden absence of our song.
I meet the eyes of my prince and stroke his soft, angelic skin. Gently, with one hand on his cheek and another resting on the thin bones of his shoulder, I kiss him. And as my lips taste his, I pull him under.
The kiss breaks once we are far enough down. My song has long since ended, but the prince stays enamored. Even as the water fills his lungs and his mouth opens in a gasp, he keeps his eyes on me with a glorious look of infatuation.
As he drowns, he touches his fingers to his lips.
Beside me, Kahlia's queen thrashes. She clutches at her throat and bats my cousin away. Angrily, Kahlia clings to her ankle and keeps her deep below the surface, the queen's face a sneer as she tries to escape. It's futile. A siren's hold is a vice.
I stroke my dying prince. My birthday is not for two weeks. This trip was a gift for Kahlia: to hold the heart of royalty in her hands and name it her fifteenth. It's not supposed to be for me to steal a heart a fortnight early, breaking our most sacred rule. Yet there's a prince dying slowly in front of me. Brown skin and lips blue with ocean. Hair flowing behind him like black seaweed. Something about his purity reminds me of my very first kill. The young boy who helped my mother turn me into the beast I am now.
Such a pretty face, I think.
I run a thumb over the poor prince's lip, savoring his peaceful expression. And then I let out a shriek like no other. The kind of noise that butchers bones and claws through skin. A noise to make my mother proud.
In one move, I plunge my fist into the prince's chest and pull out his heart.
Technically, I'm a murderer, but I like to think that's one of my better qualities.
I hold up my knife to the moon, admiring the polish of blood before it seeps into the steel and disappears. It was made for me when I turned seventeen and it became clear killing was no longer just a hobby. It was unseemly, the king said, for the Midasan prince to carry around rusted blades. And so now I carry around a magic blade that drinks the blood of its kill so quickly that I barely have time to admire it. Which is far more seemly, apparently. If not a little theatrical.
I regard the dead thing on my deck.
The Saad is a mighty vessel that stretches to the size of two full ships, with a crew that could've been over four hundred, but is exactly half that because I value loyalty above all else. Old black lanterns adorn the stern, and the bowsprit stretches forward in a piercing dagger. The Saad is so much more than a ship: It's a weapon. Painted in midnight navy, with sails the same cream as the queen's skin and a deck the same polish as the king's.
A deck that is currently home to the bloody corpse of a siren.
"Ain't it supposed to melt now?"
This is from Kolton Torik, my first mate. Torik is in his early forties, with a pure white mustache and a good four inches of height on me. Each of his arms is the size of each of my legs, and he's nothing short of burly. In summer months like these, he wears cutoff shorts, the fabric fraying by his kneecaps, and a white shirt with a black waistcoat tied by red ribbon. Which tells me that of all the things he takes seriously — which, really, is most things — his role as an almost pirate is probably not one of them. It is a contradiction to crewmen like Kye, who takes absolutely nothing seriously and yet dresses like he's an honorary member of the infamous Xaprár thieves.
"I feel weird just lookin' at it," Torik says. "All human up top."
"Enjoy looking up top, do you?"
Torik reddens a shade and turns his attention away from the siren's exposed breasts.
Of course I understand what he meant, but somewhere along the seas I've forgotten how to be horrified. There's no looking past the fins and bloodred lips, or the eyes that shine with two different colors. Men like Torik — good men — see what these creatures could be: women and girls, mothers and daughters. But I can only see them as they are: monsters and beasts, creatures and devils.
I'm not a good man. I don't think I've been one for a long time.
In front of us, the siren's skin begins to dissolve. Her hair melts to sea green and her scales froth. Even her blood, just a moment before threatening to stain the deck of the Saad, begins to lather until all that is left is sea foam. And a minute later that, too, is gone.
Excerpted from "To Kill A Kingdom"
Copyright © 2018 Alexandra Christo.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
YA Fantasy is not my typical read anymore. I'm also not particularly fond of mermaid/siren stories, but I heard a lot about To Kill a Kingdom's masterful enemies-to-lovers story line and wanted to give it a try. Because I can't say no to that trope if my life depended on it. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this book! Every single one of the characters was so well developed, especially our protagonists, Elian and Lira. I loved them and didn't favor one point of view over the other. I find that to be a rarity! All of the secondary characters were fun, too. Kye and Madrid! *heart eyes* The world building was also great and Christo did a fine job of weaving all aspects of land/sea politics, kingdoms, myth, and magic together. This is the version of The Little Mermaid teen me would have adored. I'm glad this is a standalone, but I would have liked a little more in the ending. Not the climax, though. WHEW what a climax!!!
This book was highly entertaining, from the mythical lore, the world-building, the characters, and the action. The characters were well-rounded, for the most part, and I enjoyed them all. Lira, one of the main characters, is so different from the typical protagonist. She’s a siren, and a cold-hearted killer who slowly starts to change when she is turned into a human by her mother, the Sea Queen, and interacts with them and befriends them. Elian is a more typical hero protagonist: a prince whose true love is the sea and his one mission in life is to hunt and kill sirens. While I adored both of these characters, there were a few times the author was a little exasperating in describing how these characters loathed the expectations of them. How Lira wasn’t cruel and emotionless like her mother wanted or how Elian’s true home was the sea rather than his kingdom. This got a little tedious at times. The dynamic between Elian and Lira was interesting and captivating as newly-human Lira boards Elian’s ship and joins his quest to find the crystal of Keto in order to bring down the Sea Queen. Elian wants the crystal to end all of the sirens, while Lira wants it to end her brutal and tyrannical mother. I thought the plot was interesting and clever, though there were places it felt too rushed, then others where it seemed to move too slowly. I also wished there was a little more background on the characters and their relationships with their friends and families. The romance between Elian and Lira was a nice touch. It didn’t seem too forced, as Elian and Lira went from sort-of enemies, to friends, to being in love with each other. They were fiercely protective of each other, and they had complete trust in the other, which was nice and refreshing to see. The moment Lira’s secret was exposed about her being a siren was such a great moment. Elian’s warranted hurt and betrayal was well done, and it was nice to see him struggling to reconcile his love for Lira with his mindset that all sirens are evil and must be destroyed. This story was overall very great. It has been a long time since I’ve read something that was not part of a series, and this was a great book. The characters were charming and flawed and real, and it was a very entertaining read.
I loved this Little Mermaid retelling. Christo creates a ruthless world where nothing is as it seems. Lira is an amazing MC and she is nothing as she seems. She surprised me throughout the novel with her choices and realizations. Elias was a swoonworthy prince who wanted to be anything but a prince. I loved the way the two interacted and the way they changed each other. The only thing I wanted out of this book was a little more world-building in the kingdoms that they visited on their journey for the crystal. We're dropped into 2 (maybe 3?) of the 100 kingdoms and I was a little jarred when it happened. I just wanted a little more description of the people there and why they belonged to the kingdoms they did. The characters were fleshed out extremely well and I loved all of them. The side characters brought life to the novel and made Elias' crew meet their reputation. The sirens and the creatures of the sea were utterly terrifying. I loved that they weren't the beautiful and fun mermaids we've come to know. They're ruthless and murderous. Overall, I really enjoyed this retelling and if you want a more horror like spin on our favorite sea creatures, pick this one up. *Thanks to Netgalley for this review copy*
I've never fallen in love with a book in 15 pages or less. Like, I read the first three chapters and knew this was instantly going to be a book I was obsessed with. And I was completely right in that assessment - I read this book in one day, staying up until 4 am because I HAD to finish it. Lira and Elian are such dark characters, both villains with different origin stories and motives and watching them grapple with that was amazing. The writing is beautiful and engaging and cinematic at times. I loved the crew on the ship. In a lot of ways, I think this book is going to be perfect for Six of Crows fans. But I'm obsessed. I'll read anything Alexandra Christo writes. And I need y'all to prepare for this book.
A swashbuckling read! Thanks to NetGalley and MacMillan Children's Publishing for the opportunity to read and review To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo! Lira is a siren that steals someone’s heart every year for her birthday. Lira captures a Prince while her cousin Kahlia steals a queen. The Midasan prince is introduced next, Prince Elian. This prince has two lives- one in the castle and one as a pirate, captain of his own ship and crew and a siren hunter. Lira will take her mother’s place as the Sea Queen someday, but in the meantime her mother is cruel and abusive. The Sea Queen punishes Lira for being kind and weak by turning her human and leaving her stranded in the ocean. Elian and his crew rescue Lira, thinking she’s an orphan that’s lost her family to drowning, but they are wary about her story. Elian’s goal is to kill the Prince’s Bane- the siren that kills princes. Elian has no idea that the Prince’s Bane is Lira and she’s keeping her background hidden from the crew and everyone they come in contact with. As Elian works toward his goal, he makes deals along the way with separate princesses and a slave trader. Eventually, Elian and his crew start to trust Lira because of the loyalty she’s shown by saving Elian’s life. Lira’s goal is to take over as Sea Queen and rid the world of her monstrous, manipulative mother and she hopes for peace as an end result. To Kill a Kingdom bursts with action, adventure and intrigue. This fantasy full of magic creates an amazing world with unique characters and backgrounds of their own. A wonderfully fun read worth a swashbuckling 5 stars! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
I loved this.
To Kill A Kingdom was on my list of most anticipated books of 2018 so when I was approved to read an early review copy I was over the moon (thank you BZ, you rock). I find it incredibly hard to believe that this is a debut, it really is that good! Touted as a retelling of The Little Mermaid, I knew then that this was something I had to read as I adore retellings and anything fairy tale esque. The book is paced well, the characters have some depth and lots of likeable qualities to them, and Christo is a master worldbuilder even in this, her first published book. The story concept is sound and planned out in detail, right down to the slow burn of the romance, and the twists and turns in the plot. I cannot find the words to do justice to the beauty in her writing - I urge you to read it if you enjoy - fantastic settings, masterful storytelling ability, a fun read with dark undertones. This is definitely one of those titles that you appreciate more the less you know about it so with that in mind I will try and keep the important aspects under wraps. I did know this was a standalone fantasy novel when I acquired it but I can't help but feel sad that this won't continue as a series. It definitely could carry on as from what I have heard from friends they also would have liked it to be extended. I really loved this, everything comes together and works perfectly for me. I look forward to reading anything Alexandra Christo writes in the future, it can only get better and that is a crazy thought as this is amazing as it is. I would like to thank Alexandra Christo, Bonnier Zaffre & NetGalley for the opportunity to read an ARC in exchange for an honest and impartial review.
The premise of this book was intriguing. The protagonist is a siren who steals (literally ripping them out) prince's hearts for her birthday. Prince Elian is a siren hunter. And they are thrown together in a bid to defeat the sea queen. But I have to say it was a bit predictable. Lira hides her identity from Elian. When he finds out who she is their budding romance is threatened. Adventure, danger, star-crossed lovers - yadda, yadda, yadda. This book had potential but for me it was missing the unique quality that makes me devour a book.
Do you hear that? That chugga chugga choo choo as the ground rumbles and a distant whistle sounds in the distance? Yeah, that would be the hype train passing Mandy on by just like usual. I've yet again failed disastrously with a super hyped book, and honestly, I shouldn't even be surprised by myself anymore yet I am. I have to say that I really enjoyed the first few chapters. Lira's chapters were brilliant. She was this fiery, cuththroat siren that was all like GIMME THOSE HEARTS. I'MMA CARVE THEM FROM THEIR CHESTS MUAHAHA. And I was allllllllllllllllllllll in. I loved it. Total antihero at her finest. I was really enjoying her chapters in the beginning. I also really loved the retelling aspects. I thought they were clever and unique. Ariel was Ursula's daughter and this crazy evil siren? And there were more similarities that overreached the entire novel, and I was SUPER impressed. I thought it was very cool. I thought the writing was very professionally done. Trust me, you can't tell this is Christo's debut book at all, since the writing was quite good. It was a little boring for me, but it still felt like just well done writing. She described things beautifully and her world building was complex and detailed. I never felt confused and it was quite easy to figure things out. So, that being said, I pretty much had an issue with everything else in the book. SO MUCH OOPS. The characters? I felt nothing for them after the first few chapters. Actually, I felt nothing for Elian since the moment I met him. He felt like a shadow of a character when compared to Lira. He was just so boring. I flipped through his pages so speedily because I didn't want to deal with him and just wanted to get back to Lira. And then Lira fell apart for me. Her focus got a little confusing and the moment she forgot what made her Princes' Bane and just...just kind of dwindles for me. I grew to be bored and disheartened with both of them. The other supporting crew? I find that I usually love a crew on a ship, but the supporting characters fell flatttttttttttttt. I know their names - well, sort of, but I still have nothing about what makes them them. The romance...I felt like there shouldn't have been any at all. It didn't feel organic for me at all. They literally went from hating to each other to being all, "You have my heart!!" when I'm pretty sure Lira was still debating about snatching up Elian's heart from his chest until like 3 chapters from the end?? There was nooooooooo chemistry between them at all for me, and I just wore a confused face every time they would be lovey dovey because WHERE. WHERE. WHERE WAS THE CHEMISTRY AND LEAD UP??? It was also just really boring. At first, I was super captivated by the storyline and concept, but then it just....died out. I wasn't super interested in the whole crystal thing and I wasn't interested in...Idk what else there was. I skimmed so hard in this book. Overall, I wasn't a fan of this at all. I was just so bored and I didn't find a connection to anything except the cool concept. I didn't enjoy the characters, the plot, or the romance. I'm not sure how I missed the hype with this so much, but I just found myself flailing about when I should have been swimming elegantly like a siren or something. So I'm just going to be a hype mess princess. 1 crown and a Merida rating!
A siren who kills princes for a living and a prince who hunts sirens??? WHAT A CONCEPT. Honestly if you're into the enemies to lovers trope, if you love found families, if you love good stories about pirates and/or sirens, if you appreciate a good mix of character development and action AND if you liked The Little Mermaid and are interested in reading a very special take on the fairytale, THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU. 10/10 would recommend. Seriously. It was so good.
When I first saw this on Netgalley I was so sure it was not going to be for me with that synopsis. It just didn’t quite appeal to me. After seeing so many people absolutely rave about this book however I was curious, and here we are. And hey, I can see why so many people loved it. I really took a liking to it myself. Just not as much as everyone else. I have a few bits and pieces that I wasn’t quite so taken with. To Kill a Kingdom is a retelling of the Little Mermaid, loosely anyway. Because our main character is not a mermaid but a siren. One of those that kills people. They are vicious and a small cold war is happening between the kingdoms and the sea queen. When Lyra, the sea queen’s daughter, does something unfavorable in her mother’s eyes she is punished by being turned into a human with the mission to kill the human prince that is also known as the siren killer. But that is just where it starts. In its dept this is a tale of two people that are trying to find their way out of the clutches of their parents expectations that weigh them down. As a human it is easier for Lyra to see what her mother was doing to her. How she abused her. Adding onto that ongoing action and adventure it gives a very rich and quick paced story. I did however feel like the ending got wrapped up with a bit of a too nice bow. World building wise I think that it certainly stands for the amount of pages that the book has. It is, for as far as I can tell, a standalone with less than 400 pages. That is not a crazy amount to tell a story like this in but the author managed that splendidly. However deep down I wish we had gotten just a bit more world building. Because of right now this world and these kingdoms are quite forgettable to me. I want to know more of the 100 kingdoms and about the treaty that was signed. But I also see potential for more standalone stories being set into this world that could build onto this. In any case I did enjoy the reference we got to King Midas. Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities. Character wise I loved Lyra. She is a siren who is vicious and goal driven. She is the next in line to become the sea queen and as such has a lot to live up to with her mother. I quite enjoyed her bite and claws. She never becomes unlikeable. She just is who she is. The longer she is human the more she starts to question that if this is who she is or that her mother made her this way. I think this is always an interesting question, the nature vs nurture discussion. I do have one point of beef and that is that she is called Princes’ Bane as she only kills princes. You’d think she kills them monthly but just once a year. Since she was 13. I liked Elian but he just seems like the typical prince who is barely 18 and a captain of a ship with a bunch of ‘pirates’ that are extremely loyal to him that he earned. Whatever did he do to earn to get the loyalty of 200 men like that? Especially as they are pirates. And I am using this word loosely , because come on, they are not pirates. And as an heir I can’t imagine a king so easily letting him do whatever he pleases. The romance was okay. I wanted to ship them but their hate to love went a little too fast all of a sudden. The book was quite frankly too short for it to properly simmer between them. But their witty banter was amazing and I’d reread the book just for that. Thank you to netgalley/ publisher for review copy in exchange for an honest r.
Prince Elian is a warrior, a pirate who feels more at home at sea than in the rich and prosperous kingdom he'll inherit one day. He can't stand being at home and only feels complete when he's on his ship. He is on a mission, he wants to stop the evil murders of his kind at sea and therefore kills sirens, he is trying to find a way to permanently stop them. Humans and sirens have been at war for many years and many of his fellow princes have found their early deaths because of the lure of a vicious siren. When he rescues a girl from the sea this complicates his plans, he isn't sure if he should give her a chance or lock her up. Elian might be a killer when he has to be, he also has a kind heart. Will this be his downfall? The Sea Queen is vicious and has turned her daughter into a cruel killer. Lira is a dangerous murderer and princes are the ones who fear her the most, because she takes out and collects their hearts. Lira is almost ready to become the next queen, but when she disobeys her mother's orders the Sea Queen punishes her daughter in a terrible way. She turns Lira into a human and orders her daughter to kill prince Elian without her siren magic to fall back on. Prince Elian is planning a quest and it suits Lira's needs to join him. Will she be able to fulfill her mother's wishes, so she can return home and resume her old life or will Elian sense the danger Lira's presence puts him in before it's too late? To Kill a Kingdom is an amazing magical story. Lira is dangerous and lethal, but she does have a conscience. She isn't as cold-hearted as her mother. However, she desperately want to please the Sea Queen and by becoming a ruthless killer she tries to avoid her mother's wrath as much as possible. The Sea Queen's punishments are harsh and severe, which is how Lira ends up on Elian's boat. Elian hunts her kind, so he's her archenemy. By being human she has the chance to get to know him and to find out more about the only person who can give her back her life as a siren. Elian lives for the water and his boat is his home. He's brave and daring and will do whatever it takes to complete his mission, making sure the sirens will stop killing his friends. I admired his courage and chivalry and was curious to see how that would influence Lira. Their connection fascinated me from the beginning and I couldn't turn the pages quickly enough to find out where their story would lead. Alexandra Christo has an enchanting writing style. Her gorgeous descriptions of land and sea are making her story come to life in a terrific way. I loved the way she writes about magic and her worldbuilding skills are marvelous. To Kill a Kingdom is a gripping adventure filled with surprising twists and turns. There are many fabulous creatures and the combat scenes are fantastic. I really enjoyed reading To Kill a Kingdom, it's entertaining, mesmerizing and romantic.
I really, really adored this. It had bite, but also redemption. It had banter (always my weakness), but it didn't feel forced. These characters did not like each other at first after all. And I do love that trope. And I don't use trope as a derogatory. When done right, it feels fresh and exciting but as a reader you're still getting that element you crave. I loved that these characters matched each other, and that their flaws were there too. Sure, some of the adventure could feel a little more rushed at times, but I was okay with that. Because the adventure was the vehicle for these character's journeys. This is an author I am going to keep my eye on.
To Kill a Kingdom was full of adventure, danger, death, loyalty, friendship, and a smidgen of love. One thing I really liked about this story is that everyone was a killer. Ever since she was old enough to hunt for hearts on her birthday (a ritual of the sirens), Lira has always chosen princes. Elian has taken it upon himself to travel the seas, hunting sirens. While Lira is known by the humans as Prince’s Bane, Elian is known as The Siren Killer. Both of which have seen, and been responsible for, their fair share of deaths. I just liked that this story didn’t focus on “perfect” characters. Instead we have a group of people who do what they need to do in order to survive. While the majority of the story is of Lira as a human, trying to gain the trust of Elian and his crew in order to get close to them, she isn’t really a damsel in distress. Yes, she is completely out of her element. After all, she’s used to being this massively powerful being in the ocean, and instead if stuck being this feeble human. However, she doesn’t roll over and play dead. This girl goes down fighting. While she may not have claws for nails, and razor-sharp teeth, this isn’t going to stop her from going balls to the wall crazy during a fight, and I loved it. As time goes by, you can see Lira start to show a little bit more humanity, but she still retained some of her wildness. The story is also in Elian’s POV as he commands his ship, his crew, navigates between royal politics and the laws of the sea. Even though he has taken it upon himself to rid the world of sirens one at a time, he doesn’t particularly enjoy it. Vile creatures they may be, he still doesn’t relish taking a life. However, when the Prince’s Bane kills one of his friends, he puts all of his efforts into finding her and putting her down for good. So, I was always on pins and needles wondering how he would respond when Lira’s true identity came to light. If you are worried about this being some sort of whimsical romance between star-crossed lovers, have no fear. The romance is pretty low-key. A lot of the story focuses on their adventure. There’s a legend that there’s a stone that holds the sister power to the stone that the Sea Queen has in her all-powerful trident. Elian hopes to get the stone in order to kill the queen and her people once and for all. Lira hopes to use it to overthrow the Sea Queen and free her people from her mother’s tyranny. There are so many things that need to fall in place before they can even dream of getting their hands on the stone though. Let’s just say that a lot goes on during their adventure. To Kill a Kingdom was full of adventure, danger, death, loyalty, friendship, and a smidgen of love. I loved watching this rag-tag group slowly learn to trust each other. You got to witness the sudden shift in Lira as she goes from being a siren to a human, and what that means emotionally for her. I also loved that we got to see the Sea Witch/Queen in all her tentacle glory. She was ruthless, vicious, and sadistic… and I LOVED it. If you’re looking for a good retelling of The Little Mermaid that is a bit on the darker side, then look no further! You won’t be disappointed with this one.
My adventure reading this book is something I want to preface before giving you all my review. I received an ARC back in January and started and read a good chunk of it that night. I then put it down for a couple weeks, read another large chunk in a couple days before putting it down for almost a month. By this point, I thought about putting the book down but instead acquired the audiobook and started it over to get a better feel for the story and flow of the book. Starting the book over was definitely the best move. This is a book that is best enjoyed in one sitting (or as few as possible). The fast-paced narrative and character relationships grew in such an organic way that breaking up the reading experience would result in this getting lost. I know that was happening with me. Starting the book over resulted in me enjoying the book so much more than I was before and I think this is a book that will get better with multiple readings. As a retelling, Alexandra Christo took a well-known story and added a fun twist. To Kill a Kingdom is a Little Mermaid retelling with influences from both the Disney classic and original Hans Christan Anderson tale. I will be frank, I haven’t read the original story in years, but I know the general similarities and differences. I personally noticed the Disney similarities more and love how they were integrated without feeling forced or cliche. I LOVE how Christo used the lore and legends of Sirens and other mythical marine life to create an interesting dynamic between our leads. Similarly, I loved the Sea Witch and her role in the story. Using the mythology in this world, her motives were compelling and allowed the reader to sympathize with several characters despite different morals and goals. The relationship between Lira and Elian was so much fun to read about. They start with such clear and passionate motivations. This added such an interesting dynamic to the story that really allowed the reader to connect with the characters. Their relationship elevated the plot for interesting to exquisite and helped this retelling stand out from the ones I’ve read recently. Despite loving this story as much as I did, something I can’t identify is keeping me from giving it a 5-star rating. I will definitely be giving this one a reread when my head clears to see if it was just my mood or if I can identify or verbalize whatever it is. Final Thoughts Those who love dark retellings will absolutely love this story. Christo takes the classic tale we all know and love and adds her own spin. This story is full of magic and action and will definitely make you question characters and motivation. Take a weekend and get lost in this mystical world.
To Kill a Kingdom is a YA fantasy book with a unique twist on the Little Mermaid fairy tale. This story follows our two main characters: Lira, a siren and princess of the underwater kingdom, and Elian, prince of Midas and captain of the Saad. What really sets this book apart is the fact that it takes a darker approach to the Little Mermaid and fleshes out the setting to become a fully realized world with multiple kingdoms, cultures, and interesting characters. I tried to come into this book with little-to-no expectations because the story was so hyped in the book community. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I thought the plot was compelling and took a lot of surprising twists. Most of the story takes place on land, and I loved all the different kingdoms the characters traveled to. I was a little disappointed about how little the sirens' queendom was described. Alexandra Christo definitely focused on world building of the kingdoms on land, and the world was so vast that I could see her writing more stories set in this world. As someone who's not a huge fan of YA romance, I really liked how relationships were portrayed in this book. The female characters were just as strong and independent as the male characters. I also loved the humorous and sarcastic banter between Lira and Elian. I would have liked to see the story go even darker as well as see more complexity in the Sea Queen's character. Additionally, Elain's character felt a little too perfect. However, Christo did a great job with Lira's character I loved her progression throughout the story. Overall, I think this book was very entertaining and will be enjoyable to a wide range of readers, especially those that like fully developed fantasy worlds with strong female characters. ***I received an advanced ebook in return for an honest review on NetGalley***
Ooh I loved this! An adventurous, grittier version of The Little Mermaid. Plenty of action, wonderful diverse characters, and a bit of romance that isn't too overwhelming. The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because of the alternating first person point of view between Elian and Lira. Normally this wouldn't bother me, but the chapters didn't indicate whose voice it was in at the beginning. So you had to read a paragraph or two before you figured out the POV. This was an eARC that I was reading, so hopefully that's something they fixed for the final print edition. Otherwise, this was amazing and I highly recommend for people who like retellings.
3.5 stars After that cover and synopsis, I was quite excited to get to this one. Especially when I had heard several other reviewers were in love with it. Lira and Elian are both interesting characters. They’re so similar and don’t realize it. They had such potential to be so horrible and so sweet together and I know that doesn’t make sense. There were some scenes with banter, but not nearly as many as I wanted. My main complaint is that I didn’t quite see Lira’s shift of seeing Elian from enemy to something more. Oh, and that I didn’t get nearly enough of Kye and Madrid. I’m 1000000% here for a book with them as the MCs. Plot wise it was okay? There were a few moving parts and at the same time, it felt like nothing was happening. I was expecting more tension, more conflict, more of everyone not trusting each other, just...more. And while the ending was oddly satisfying, I definitely wanted more there as well. Overall, it was an interesting idea and retelling, but for me it was lacking a spark I was looking for. I can’t wait to see future works from this author. **Huge thanks to Feiwel and Friends for providing the arc free of charge**
Alexandra Christo’s debut novel follows the tale of the siren princess Lira, a fierce hunter of men known as the Princes” bane. When circumstances arise, causing Lira to kill one of her own, her mother the Sea Queen punishes her heir by turning her into the very thing her kind hates the most- a human. Without her fins or hypnotizing song, Lira must race against time to bring back the heart of Prince Elian, a notorious pirate and siren hunter, or face eternity as a human. With captivating descriptions and adept character development Christo weaves an unforgettable tale that will leave readers on the edge of their seat to the very end. I was completely prepared to like this story. With killer sirens and a pirate crew, who wouldn’t? What I was not prepared for however, was to fall completely head over heels for this novel. The writing style was absolutely gorgeous, the descriptions and the world building were imaginative in a delightfully unexpected way. As I consumed every detail about the kingdoms and the backstories of the characters, it became widely apparent that Christo had poured her heart into this story and was dedicated to giving her audience a story they would not soon forget. The romance in this novel was expertly executed. Slow burns are very tricky. If they are too slow, the romances fizzle out and don’t keep the reader’s attention. No substance or too fast, and it becomes a notorious case of insta-love that will make readers everywhere roll their eyes in exasperation. But the romance between Lira and Elian was perfection. These are two characters are hardened by battle and duty, so a slow burn was a great choice on Christo’s part. While their first kiss isn’t until the latter section of the novel, there is romantic tension between the two that builds and builds, and when they finally do express their feelings for each other- it’s magical. What I especially loved about this book was the characters. Lira and Elian are a refreshing change from your typical heroes. Both of them are pretty morally grey characters, which I love since it makes them much more realistic and far more interesting. Lira’s growth from honed killer to fierce protector is transformative. One of the common tropes that I find repetitive and somewhat boring is the hero who gives up everything when the villain threatens the life of his/her love interest. Lira is not that girl. She’s Kick A** and clever and gets the jobs done without having to submit to the villain. To Kill a Kingdom was the dark mermaid tale I didn’t know I needed. With ruthless sirens and a pirate prince, Christo’s debut novel ascends to my number one favorite mermaid tale with ease and grace. Be sure to add this story to your reading list, you don’t want to miss out on this compelling read.
** I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ** To Kill a Kingdom starts off with an unexpectedly dark twist. The female protagonist is a siren who literally steals hearts, whereas the male protagonist is a prince turned pirate/siren hunter. In the sea kingdom, sirens are only allowed to kill a human and steal their heart on birthdays. Lira was well known for stealing the hearts of princes; her actions earning her the nickname of "The Prince's Bane". But when she ignores the rules and steals a heart well before her eighteenth birthday, the Sea Queen turns her into the very creature which she has spent her entire life hunting: a human. The story was a very refreshing portrayal of Hans Christian Anderson's original tale. Yes, there is romance. But it is a different form of romance, one with a more presumptuous undertone. Both protagonists exude dominating personalities. There are no damsels or lads in distresses. Only two egotistical individuals with remarkable chemistry between them. Prince Elian's personality reminds me a bit of Roronoa Zoro from the anime One Piece. In fact, this entire story could be a crossover between One Piece and The Little Mermaid, followed by a storyline that takes its own route. There is also a reference to the Greek myth of The Midas Touch, which was used to shape Prince Elian's kingdom. Overall, To Kill a Kingdom was brilliantly written, with surprisingly marvelous world building. One thing's for sure: the author had gone out of her way to make the novel as creative as possible.
To Kill a Kingdom is such a great retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid. As well as keeping a little of the Ariel and Ursula influence. I loved this story and the way it was reimagined!! My favorite love stories are always the ones filled with sarcastic and witty banter between the two love interest. I think Lira and Elian have this down pat. They go from despising each other, to friends and even confidants. I loved the way their interactions paly out all the way through. Even when trust is something that really has to be tested. Neither of them have bright and sunny past but they both can see each other for what is in front of them. I loved the way they come together. Also it’s always great to have dual POVs. Especially when you are dealing with both an Ocean and Land kingdom. Having the two perspectives of a war that has waged for centuries, is really insightful and adds depth to the story. You are like oh I can see where they are coming from, oh I can see where they coming from too. Plus I thought they were well down and definitely sounded like two different characters. The supporting characters fill their roles well. Kahlia who is Lira’s cousin and Elian and his crew of pirates. Of course Sakura and the kingdom of ice. We got bits of the other kingdoms but not so much information where you felt overloaded. Again I loved the little nods to the other versions of The Little Mermaid. The sea foam and taking of a princes heart. Lira’s fiery red hair and the Sea Queens tentacles. It’s my favorite way for a retelling to be done, keeping little elements but making the story it’s own. I really loved this book and especially the characters. A great reimagining of a classic story!
"To Kill a Kingdom" is a wonderful YA fantasy about a siren and a pirate. Told in alternating points of view, we follow Lira, a deadly siren known as the Princes' Bane, because she takes the heart of a prince each year, and Elian, a prince of Midas who would really rather be a pirate, hunting sirens throughout the waters around the 100 kingdoms. Lira is under her mother, the Sea Queen’s thumb, as are all the other ocean creatures, sirens and merfolk alike. Someday, she will receive the trident that has the eye of Keto and gives the user immense power with which to rule. For now, she must do her mother’s bidding- which includes taking the heart of a prince every year on her birthday. This is why she has 17 hearts buried under her bed. In this story, sirens are beautiful while merfolk are a grotesque combination of fish with a little humanity. Sirens need their beauty to lure humans to their deaths- they sing and captivate them into drowning, taking their hearts just as they die. The hearts then lend them some power and become part of them. However, it does not seem that they need the hearts to live. The Sea Queen has tentacles and magical powers through the trident she carries (think Ursula in the Little Mermaid). She does not care for the lives of her subjects (including her daughter) and merely for the power she holds. Thus, she seems ready to get rid of her heir and keep the power to herself. Latching on to a small mistake of her daughter’s (taking a heart one month early), she imposes many punishments- the worst of which is to make her into a weak human and set her out to do the impossible- take a prince’s heart without her siren powers. Although Elian is a prince, his life really happens on the sea with his loyal crew. He has a magic compass which can tell him if someone is being truthful and a magic knife that absorbs the blood of sirens and kills them quickly. When sirens die, they return to the sea (their bodies become sea water and sea foam), and this maybe makes them seem easier to kill to the Captain (Elian). Things are about to change when he finds a woman about his age floating in the middle of the ocean all alone. He immediately jumps in to save her, and finds that she is somehow less than grateful and a little spiteful. Lira is trying to accomplish what her mother has asked her, but the longer she spends with the humans, the harder it becomes. She finds purpose in the quest they have set out on- to find the other eye of Keto, which could match the Sea Queen’s power and end her tyranny. Along the way, she also learns about her own humanity, which she was taught to suppress, and what it means to be human. Overall, it’s a poignant and really fun fantasy that you can easily lose yourself in for a day or two (because you won’t be able to put it down)! The action builds until the end, and I thought at first that it might be a series, but everything is wrapped up in the end. I actually wish it could be series, because I loved the premise, this alternate magical world, and all the characters- primary and secondary- they were all very well crafted. I highly recommend this book for YA readers of all ages. Aside there is fantasy violence and deaths, there is one attempted sexual assault , but it is not too descriptive/does not get far. While it might be better for older readers, younger YA readers may also enjoy this enthralling fantasy novel. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions