Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Publisher: Feiwel Friends
Release Date: March 6th 2018
“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 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?”
“I fall to the floor and claw the sand so deeply that my fingers stab a rock and it cleaves my nail clean off. I am breathless, heaving in great gasps of water and then choking it back up moments later. I think I might be drowning, and I laugh at the thought.”
Alexandra Christo’s debut To Kill a Kingdom delights with its sharp dialogue and ever-expanding world. Admired throughout the ocean kingdom of Keto and feared throughout the human kingdoms above, Lira has made a reputation for herself as the most ferocious siren, stealing the hearts of human princes and striking fear into their subjects. The only one not impressed is Lira’s mother, the Sea Queen herself. When Lira’s disobedience goes too far, the Sea Queen punishes Lira by making her human and ordering her to take the heart of the prince who has spent years trying to hunt down the infamous Princes’ Bane, Lira herself. Prince Elian is more pirate than prince. Seeking adventure over power, Elian captains his own ship in search of the deadly creatures known as sirens in hopes of safeguarding the human world. When Lira meets Elian face-to-face, she discovers they have more in common than she ever thought possible.
The novel introduces sirens as unfeeling and driven by their need for power. No one personifies this more than the Sea Queen. Her interactions with Lira show just how callous she can be. Lira has been raised to hunt humans, to live up to the expectations of her mother, and to one day take over as Sea Queen. The novel is slow in revealing what is underneath the surface with Lira, but I actually ended up appreciating this. Seeing Lira as both a ferocious hunter and a marooned siren desperate to change the fate of her people gave me a more complete picture of who she is and an appreciation of every facet. I really liked that author doesn’t allow Lira to be both deadly as a siren and a human, but the character must learn to lean on different strengths. I don’t think Lira’s greatest fear is being human, but rather being powerless. Though it takes her time to fully understand her mother’s abuse of power, it is Lira’s lack of strength as a human that helps her see how she’s been manipulated and coerced into becoming something she is not.
Elian is an easier character to understand, but I don’t believe this makes him any less complex. He is heir to a rich kingdom and has want of nothing, but is far too anxious and adventurous for such a calling. As captain of the Saad, Elian has been granted freedom from the confines of princehood and proven that the respect his crew shows has been earned and is not just a result of his title. Smart and sometimes underhanded when necessary, Elian and his crew have made a name for themselves as siren hunters. In order to rid the world of the Sea Queen’s army of deadly sirens, Elian puts all his hope in a mythical weapon said to make its wielder just as powerful as the Sea Witch. His journey brings him in contact with the mysterious Lira. Reason says he cannot trust her, but she may be the key to finding the weapon he so desperately needs.
One of the highlights of the novel is this journey Elian and his crew make. Readers are introduced to various kingdoms with their own personalities. It’s here that Christo’s writing shines brightest. Her descriptions are vivid and beautiful and made me as a reader want to explore this world more. That being said, we see Lira’s kingdom the least which left me a little disappointed. I would be remiss not mention the chemistry between the two leads. Their biting remarks to one other were entertaining and fun, and the rapport between the two was probably my favorite part about the novel.