Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Genre: Fiction/ Fantasy/ YA/ Fairytale Retelling
Source: Goodreads Recommendation
Favourite Quote: ‘In the pits of our souls – if I amuse myself with the notion that I have a soul – Elian and I aren’t so different. Two kingdoms that have come with responsibilities we each have trouble bearing. Him, the shackles of being pinned to one land and one life. Me, trapped in the confines of my mother’s murderous legacy. And the ocean, calling out to us both. A song of freedom and longing.’
Lira is the siren princess, heir to the tyrant Sea Queen, ruler of the sea and feared by all. It’s almost time to take over her mother’s rein over the ocean and prove herself for being the unemotional siren her mother wants her to be. She already has a name for herself as the Prince’s Bane – all of her 17 hearts for her 17 years have all been that of a prince. Only they are worthy. When she takes a heart too soon before her birthday, her punishment will ruin everything she’s spent her life building. Only the prince with the heart of gold will redeem her. Or so she thought. Going behind her mother’s back proved to be worse than death when she finds herself in the middle of the ocean with legs, and her saviour being non other than her prince with the heart of gold. The siren killer. The only way back to the life she craves most is to kill him as a human. Unfortunately for her, humans also come with emotions, feelings that Lira can’t seem to ignore as she spends more time on the surface with the one who will can change her fate forever.
‘She doesn’t want to punish me. She wants to humiliate me. Show a kingdom whose fear and loyalty I’ve earned that I’m no different from them. That I don’t stand out. That I’m not worthy to take her crown. I’ve spent my life trying to be just what my mother wanted – the worst of us all – in an effort to show I’m worthy of the trident. I became the Princes’ Bane, a title that defines me throughout the world. For the kingdom – for my mother – I am ruthless. Now my mother wants to take that from me. Not just my name, but the faith of the ocean. If I’m not the Princes’ Bane, then I am nothing. Just a princess inheriting a crown instead of earning it.’
I absolutely adored this book. I listened to the audiobook in one day and then re-read most of the book again on my kindle afterwards falling hard for the story. If you like The Little Mermaid then you’ll love this fairytale retelling! The characters are fantastic, the plot will keep you in suspense, the scenery is wonderfully written and the romance is slow burning and innocent. It’s magical, it’s murderous and it’s full of lies and uncertainty as two opposing royals fight the odds to end the rule of the Sea Queen. The story itself is told from duel perspectives which brings more depth to the characters and their own stories as they share the same quest to find the eye at the highest peak of the world.
Lira was a great protagonist, she’s a strong willed character who will do anything to please her mother in order to become the next Sea Queen of the ocean, even if that means murdering the ones she loves. Her upbringing was a harsh one, and although she has been through so much, she still has kindness in her heart and will do her best to show mercy when she can or take the brunt of her mother’s wraith to save another. Yeah she’s a siren and a human killer, but that’s what she was raised to do, princess or not, it’s just who she is. It gave Lira’s character even more strength as a powerful royal in the ocean. Even when she wakes up to discover she has legs, she continues to fight through her new weakness with a purpose and plan to take over her mother’s cruel reign. I loved her actions around prince Elian, even when she was a siren, she couldn’t help but feel curious about him and spared him. When she was human and had to rely on him, she felt drawn to him over the others. It was sweet and innocent when she started to explore what love was as a human and her emotions for Elian as they grew closer on their adventure. Lira was determined to rule the sea, but mostly to stop her mother which was a great aspect of her character that I loved. She wasn’t naive, she did what she had to do to survive and become the ruler they all needed her to be.
‘”As long as the queen has it, every monster in the sea is hers. And if she finds the other eye, she’ll use it to enslave humans in the same way.” ~
“What do you mean, enslave humans in the same way?” I ask.
Lira released her grip on the table and turns her stony eyes from Kye. “Sirens are not a free species,” she says.
“Are you trying to tell me that they’re just misunderstood? No, wait, let me guess: They actually love humans and want to be one of us but the Sea Queen has them under mind control?”
Lira doesn’t blink at my sarcasm. “Better to be a loyal warrior than a treacherous prisoner,” she says.”‘
Elian’s character was very well written and played his part perfectly. A prince who wanted nothing more than to walk away from his duty as prince to the kingdom and live on the ocean as a siren killer. You could feel his desire to be on his ship with his crew and the person he truly is as captain compared to the tense out of place prince he is in his own castle. Living life as a pirate can be ruthless and deadly which gives him the thrill and adventure he craves, killing sirens and getting revenge for the deaths of so many allowed him to give it a purpose away from his family. He’s strong, clever and knows how to get what his wants with his royal upbringing, giving his pirate crew opportunities and experiences they could only have dreamed of. Elian would do anything to get rid of the Sea Queen and the Princes’ Bane, even if it means sacrificing everything he has for it. Even as a pirate, royal treasures mean very little to him as he as so much of it, I liked how down to earth his was and how his most prized possession is a single black pocket watch with a compass that splits the liars from the loyal. North for truth, South for lies. It brought a bit more subtle magic to the story which the author did well in placing here and there. His reactions around Lira were cute, he knows there is more to her than meets the eye and for that he can’t help but keep an eye on her at all times. He can’t help but feel the need to be near her on their adventure and feel protective of her even when she can hold her own.
My eyes shoot upward. The Prince of Midas stares down at us, horrified and awestricken. His lips tilt a little to the left.
“Look at you,” he whispers. “My monster, come to find me.
I regard him with as much curiosity as he regards me.’
The additional characters were great, they really helped build the story along and made the world feel bigger with the various kingdoms and their part in their adventure. Whilst you didn’t get to spend much time getting to know them personally with their limited character build up, each one was unique and easy to follow with their strong personalities whether they were part of Elian’s crew, a pirate enemy, a creature of the sea or another royal family member from another kingdom. You knew who to trust even without Elian’s pocket watch.
I loved the world building in the story, you knew where you were without much description; the underwater world felt dark and suppressed by power and misshapen sea creatures, the ship felt freeing and dangerous, the town’s they visited felt busy and carefree, the royal castle felt smothering and artificial and the high cloud mountains felt cold and isolated. You felt all that and more as you became lost in their mission to remove the Sea Queen from her reign of terror. It was magical and if you haven’t already picked up from my review so far, I loved it and I honestly couldn’t recommend it enough for anyone who enjoyed a good fantasy fairytale retelling.
Thanks for reading 🙂
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 unsavoury 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 siren kind for good.
But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?