by Alexandra Christo
Published on March 6, 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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?
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I am here for all the re-tellings and watery depths coming out this year, so To Kill a Kingdom was on my radar pretty early on. But I think I missed something along the lines here because though many reviews raved about this one, I wasn’t quite feeling it.
It took time to get into the world. I couldn’t wait to read about a siren who destroys princes’ hearts (literally) but the opening scenes lost me. The content was there but the writing left me a tad bored. But once the story moved past the set-up into where Lira is cursed, it picked up. Lots of adventuring and action, some of which reminded me of Song of the Current (which I loved) and I appreciated that in To Kill a Kingdom.
And yet. . . something just wasn’t there for me.
I loved the enemies-to-lovers between Lira and Elian, and didn’t mind the romance since this was a Little Mermaid re-telling after all. Lira is a bit gritty and makes questionable decisions, same with Elian, but I didn’t mind. Honestly, I love a good morally gray character. The story loses me, though, when I can’t make any connection to either point of view. I wasn’t invested, and whether that’s because of the writing style or the character portrayal, I still don’t know.
Everything is there! As a reader, I’m frustrated with myself because To Kill a Kingdom not only gave a fairy tale a new twist (love), featured lots of questionable decisions (excellent), sea-faring and adventure time with twists and turns (yes please), and one of my favorite romance tropes of all time (thank. you.). BUT I WASN’T FEELING IT.
Something was ultimately missing that I can’t pinpoint, and the book was nothing more than an average read for me.
There’s so much going on in this world. We learn of different cultures and people, but the details that I wanted to know as a reader were skated over and instead I was fed random bits and bobs that dragged the story down. I honestly wonder if this book could have been split into two so that world could be more thoroughly explored (perhaps not the story so much as a the world itself).
Then we have an expanding cast that, again, needed more time for development because I really couldn’t tell one from the other on the page without names. They didn’t make an impact which made me question their purpose. This includes the “villain” of the story, the illustrious sea queen. Rather than give her depths much like her oceanic home, she fell into the “I’m evil because I can be evil.” If we’re getting a dark, grittier version of The Little Mermaid, then I want the villain to be just as dark and gritty.
I think the hype ruined To Kill a Kingdom for me, at least in part. I wanted to love it so much that when I read it, I struggled to see the good through my waning interest. It’s a decent standalone but wasn’t what I hoped for.