When I turned the last page of To Kill A Kingdom, all I could think was that I wanted more. And to be clear, I wanted more because I was so blown away by the story and wanted to spend more time with Lira and Elian. This was such a strong fantasy standalone, but wow, if there was a sequel I would be all over it.
To Kill A Kingdom begins by introducing us to Lira, a siren princess known as The Princes’ Bane, a name given to her because of collection of princes’ hearts – literally. Every year on her birthday, she steals the heart of a prince and presents it to her mother The Sea Queen, who detests the idea of Lira one day taking her throne. When Lira acts in a way her mother deems a betrayal, The Sea Queen turns Lira into a human and gives her until her birthday to collect the heart of Prince Elian, if she wants to return to the sea. Meanwhile, we meet Prince Elian, who much prefers to be seen as a pirate and siren killer. He travels the seas with his band of mates on his beloved ship with the goal of seeking the Princes’ Bane and a way to end the war between sirens and humans once and for all. When Elian finds Lira in her human form floating in the middle of the ocean, he rescues her. She promises to give him the information he needs to overthrow the Sea Queen – but of course, Elian doesn’t know who she is or what she really wants from him.
Alexandra Christo’s writing is dark and seductive, making her storytelling addictive and complex as it dips in and out of Lira and Elian’s perspectives. Her writing was divine, so suited to this dark, sort of retelling of The Little Mermaid, with pirates and monsters in the deep, dark sea. I cannot say enough how impressed I was with the delicate, harsh descriptions in the complex world building, plot and character development. Her exploration of humanity was something I found particularly inspiring, as well, as it melded the story together in a way that made it philosophical as well as action-packed and passionate.
But let me move on to say a little more about the characters. And their banter-fueled, I-basically-hate-you relationship. Lira is without a doubt one of my favourite female voices I’ve read in a long time. I never thought I could like a siren quite as much as I do her. Granted, she spends a chunk of the book as a human, which does develop her human side as she spends time away from her evil mother, but she is still so snarky, manipulative and strong. I loved her. Elian is also a tremendous character. With both his charm and his sarcasm, he is a pirate prince you can’t help rooting for. And the pair of them together, well now… Don’t make me say more. There are also many other likeable characters, and some you’ll love to hate.
I loved everything about this book and the story Alexandra Christo has brought to its pages. Its only flaw is that there isn’t more! If you enjoy a good, dark fantasy with an enemies to friends slow burn relationship, power, death and the quest for the end of a war between to lands and two species, then this is your book. Simply wondrous.