Friday, March 2, 2018

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Release Date - March 6,  2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  384 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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?
The opening line of To Kill A Kingdom immediately sets the tone for this retelling of The Little Mermaid. It prepares the reader for a dark and vicious take on the classic tale, and presents a unique take on a story many know so well.

Alexandra Christo's writing is precise. Every word is used to advance the story or setting in some way. It is a story that could have easily been drawn out to create a series, and I respect that it was instead crafted into a much tighter stand alone. It makes for a better story and one that, I feel, showcases Alexandra's writing talent.

The settings used within the story are strikingly vivid. Each land visited is brought to life from the golden hues of Midas, to the snow covered beauty of Pagos. The descriptions make this novel read like a movie and I could easily picture not only the characters, but the world the inhabit. It's a fully realized world with a mythology that is vital to the story and it is where the writing truly shines.

Lira is the siren known as The Prince's Bane. The siren who has taken a heart for ever year she's been a live. The siren who only kills Princes. She's deadly, vicious, and the perfect weapon for the Sea Queen. It is Lira who grows the most during the journey she takes. She also is used to prove that hatred isn't something that someone is born with, it is taught. I enjoyed Lira because she's so headstrong, focused, and willing to learn and grow. She's a great character that is a stark contrast to the wide eyed Ariel.

Prince Elian is more pirate than Prince. He would rather be on the ocean than in his kingdom. He wants nothing more than the freedom to control his own destiny, and to kill the murderous siren who hunts his kind. He garners loyalty from this crew easily and has plenty of charm. He's the type of book character who steals your heart. He is more fleshed out than the Prince in this story typically is which is always welcome.

The nods to the classic tale of The Little Mermaid are small and peppered throughout. The transformation scene from siren to human is, like a lot of things in this novel, bloody and brutal. I could feel the pain radiating from the page and the agony Lira must have felt. It is a punishment in every sense, and something that stayed with me during the rest of the novel.  The Sea Witch's tentacles will immediately bring to mind Ursula from the Disney classic, but the family connection between her and Lira makes it even more heartbreaking.

The hatred between Lira and Prince Elian ensures that this is not an instalove situation. She very much wants to rip out his heart, and he would not hesitate to kill her if he knew she was the infamous Prince's Bane. It is a slow process of Lira getting to know who Prince Elian is, and seeing the good things that humans do for each other that changes her entire perspective. I makes for a deliciously torturous build up to them falling for each other. The romance, while being important, is not the sole driving force of the narrative. It allows this story to be a little richer and more interesting as a result.

Alexandra Christo has written a unique and enthralling read that will appeal to anyone who loves retellings. This one is not the Disneyfied version, nor is it the heartbreaking original. It manages to be a mixture of both and therefore something entirely its own. I eager await whatever Alexandra Christo writes next as I fully fell under the spell of this amazing debut.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds so awesome and just the type of mermaid retelling I want. I love how the author uses the story we know as a foundation and builds her own world based on that. Definitely going to have to pick this up. Great review!


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