Book Review: To Kill a Kingdom

killkingdom cover

To Kill a Kingdom

Written by Alexandra Christo

342 pages

Published by Hot Key Books

Publication date: 6th March 2018

Summary (from Goodreads):

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 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 HAVE A HEART for every year I’ve been alive. There are seventeen hidden in the sand of my bedroom. Every so often, I claw through the shingle, just to check they’re still there. Buried deep and bloody. I count each of them, so I can be sure none were stolen in the night. It’s not such an odd fear to have. Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.

Kahlia breaks into a wild smile. “It’s been an age since your last kill, Lira,” she teases. “Are you sure you’re not out of practice?”“A year is hardly an age.”“It depends who’s counting.” I sigh. “Then tell me who that is so I can kill them and be done with this conversation.” Kahlia’s grin is ungodly . The kind reserved for moments when I am at my most dreadful, because that’s the trait sirens are supposed to value most. Our awfulness is treasured. Friendship and kinship taught to be as foreign as land. Loyalty reserved only for the Sea Queen.

As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to read it – see my Waiting on Wednesday post here.

Here are my reasons:

  • Fantasy is always my happy place so I am always interested in new releases.
  • Fairy tale inspired/ retelling = bound to be a favourite. I LOVE folklore and fairy tales, the darker the better!
  • Two main characters seem set up to hate each other and I do like a bit of the ‘enemies to friends/lovers‘ trope. Admit it, you do too!
  • Standalone – I love a good standalone. Series are great, but sometimes I just want a book that is complete in itself so I don’t have to wait for ages for the next book…
  • Been hearing a lot of good things about this in the book-blogger community already.
  • AND – – bonus – – the cover is beautiful!

I am happy to report that this book fulfilled and exceeded my expectations. There was enough world-building to really give you a feel for the city states above water (reminded me of Ancient Greece) and some for the underwater kingdom, ruled by the Sea Witch. I did find myself wanting to know more about the underwater world because the majority of the story takes place above the sea – far above actually, when the characters end up climbing an impossibly-tall mountain!

I liked the politics and the fraught friendships between the royals as well as the intrigue being fermented between kingdoms.

Elian and Lira were both flawed, realistic characters and I was really glad that their mutual hatred took a long time to even remotely change into anything else. They both had motivation for their actions and didn’t change themselves because of their changing feelings.

A fantastically dark and twisted fairytale re-imagining that deserves a spot on any fantasy-lover’s bookshelf!

Maybe the weight Elian carries is born from the shackles of a royal life and a kingdom that is unwanted but needed all the same. It’s something I can understand. Another similarity between us that I’d be blind not to note. 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 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.

Reflections of each other in a different kingdom and a different life. Broken pieces from the same mirror. There are worlds between us, but that seems more like semantics than tangible evidence of how dissimilar we are.

What I liked: Dark and creative – this is how fairytale retellings should be done. I liked the relationship between Lira and her cousin. I liked Elian’s crew and their banter. I also found it interesting how the romance developed – no insta-love here – and how the story ended.

Even better if: I would have liked even more of Lira and Elian’s snippy conversations – they were really fun to read! I would have liked to find out more about the world of the sirens and mermaids and other underwater creatures.

How you could use it in your classroom: This would be a good recommendation for secondary pupils, particularly those who have already enjoyed alternative or ‘fractured’ fairy tales.

(Thank you to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for my e-ARC)

While you’re here, why not check out my reviews of The Cruel Prince or The Hazel Wood, another two dark fairy tales?

Find me on Twitter or Goodreads


25 Comments Add yours

  1. sepiareads says:

    I finished this book today. I really enjoyed it too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ashley Rae says:

    I’m interested in reading this book! Great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let me know what you think of it! I love fantasy and fairytales so am biased, but would still recommend it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ashley Rae says:

        Will do! I’m hoping to read it this month. 😊🤞

        Liked by 1 person

  3. bookishinbed says:

    I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about this book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I really need to pick this book up asap. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really did live up to the hype for me, particularly in that the characters develop over the story and they act realistically, rather than changing and doing something after falling in insta-love. Let me know what you think of it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bookishinbed says:

        I was going to say I should have check if the library today to see if they had it but I’m pretty sure it’s too soon. Takes them a little while with new releases. I will let you know. I hope to get to it soon!


  4. Norrie says:

    Did someone say standalone? Ok, now i might actually read this 😀 I’m so overwhelmed with series at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! I am always on the look-out for good standalones because sometimes you just read a great book that is complete in itself, rather than having to hole everything in your head while the series stretches over years…

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.