Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

A princess must have her prince.

34499221. sy475 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?

4 Stars

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m all about sexy swashbucklers and high seas shenanigans. At this point, I’m basically pirate trash. Another thing I’m 100% trash for is anything even remotely related to the Little Mermaid.

So what happens when you combine a sweeping, high-stakes pirate adventure with the Little Mermaid? You get To Kill a Kingdom, a deliciously dark, twisty AF retelling of epic proportions. Clearly To Kill a Kingdom had my name plastered all over it.

It’s impossible not to read To Kill a Kingdom without drawing comparisons to Disney’s Little Mermaid. While the plot takes a darker, gritty turn, Alexandra Christo drops a lot of subtle nods guaranteed to make any Disney fan scream. There are elements of the beloved classic tale scattered throughout with direct references and even a new spin on iconic scenes.

Animated gif about gif in The Little Mermaid by valentina

Spoiler alert: THIS SCENE WITH ERIC HOLDING ARIEL IN THE WATER ACTAULLY HAPPENS!!!

I also really appreciated how Alexandra pulled threads from Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid too. The idea of the sirens dissolving into sea foam was one of Alexandra’s more obvious nods.

Anyway, Lira is our new Ariel but don’t mistake her for a gentle Disney-esque princess. Known across the high seas as the Prince’s Bane, Lira is heir to the Sea Queen’s dark legacy and the deadliest siren of them all. She’s bloodthirsty, desperate to prove herself and utterly ruthless with the hearts of seventeen princes under her belt. A classic anti-heroine you just can’t help but root for.

But what makes Lira’s story so heart breaking is her complex relationship with her mother [basically Ursula on freaking steroids] and the violent, abusive nature of her upbringing. Lira is a classic case of circumstance and nature vs nurture. It’s very hard to hate Lira when she was basically manipulated into becoming a murderess. But Alexandra give us glimmers of humanity hidden deep beneath her heartless façade and Lira must discover who she is without her mother’s influence. All I’m going to say is that Lira’s character growth is phenomenal as she questions what makes a monster and what makes a human.

the little mermaid gif | Tumblr

Then we have Prince Eric Prince Elian. I’m not going to lie, unlike Lira, it took me a while to really click with Elian’s character. A classic reluctant prince, Elian is heir to the kingdom of Midas [oh yeah – we get a lot of different folklore] but his heart belongs to the ocean. Elian spends the majority of his time captaining the Saad on a seemingly hopeless but noble quest to rid the seas of its bloodthirsty sirens. His reputation as the Siren Killer is almost as notorious as Lira’s – and I bet you can see where this is headed…

Basically, a twist of fate sees Lira robbed of both her siren’s song and tail, which is how the Prince’s Bane comes sword to sword with the Siren Killer. In a spectacular homage to Disney, Elian saves Lira from drowning and that’s where the real fun begins.

I had so much fun traipsing across the ocean with Lira and Elian. The slowest of slow burns, their narrative is full of sass and snarky banter. So why the four stars? To Kill a Kingdom is a strong debut but it has its flaws. The biggest issue I had was it’s choppy pacing, which could have been balanced a little better. And if I’m being 100% transparent here, I would have liked a little more tension to Lira and Elian’s relationship. I mean, I can’t be the only one who feels that the romance could have been a little hot and heavier. #noshame.

Little mermaid C: - Honey Blood | via Tumblr

What had me bumping up my initial rating though was the spectacularly vivid final confrontation. I mean, if you think Eric impaling Ursula with a bowsprit is intense, you’ve got another thing coming. All I’m saying is that To Kill a Kingdom’s showdown between Lira and the Sea Queen was EVERYTHING. Basically, I was left utterly breathless and in awe.

So okay, To Kill a Kingdom wasn’t a perfect book. Like I said, I didn’t instantly click with the characters and at certain points, the pacing was off but at the end of it all, To Kill a Kingdom gave me all the feels. And its the sort of book that just keeps growing on you. Definitely recommending this dark retelling for any Little Mermaid fan. And it’s a standalone so you don’t need to worry about a crippling cliff hanger.

12 thoughts on “Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

  1. I agree that the romance in this one totally could have been hotter!! Give me all the fire plz and thank you. And yess I am so trash for anything pirate I just got a copy of Daughter of a Pirate King and cannot wait to read it. Great review! (Loved the little mermaid gifs 🤩)

    Liked by 1 person

    • YAS! Lol – I’m so glad I’m not the only one! 😉

      And ohmygosh – I cannot WAIT for you to read Daughter of the Pirate King. It’s honestly such a bloody good time! FYI Daughter of the Siren Queen – the second book – was my favorite. It blew the first out of the water. That being said, you are just going to LOVE Riden, our MC’s love interest. Feel free to DM me your thoughts – I’d love to rave all about it with you! happy reading x ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • 100% so much fun! I am all about sweeping adventures across watery kingdoms and To Kill a Kingdom did not disappoint! I love a good slow burn as much as the next girl but I can’t lie – there was a teeny part of me that wanted just a little bit more. You can never have enough kissing scenes in books! Lol 😂 ❤

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  2. I’ve been wanting to read this for ages!! I really need to pick it up soon – Disney’s The Little Mermaid is honestly the best, nothing can beat it!
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OKAY OKAY BUT WHEN DID I ADD THIS BOOK ON MY TBR (I just went to add it to Goodreads & apparently some past version of Ngoc already had it on her TBR & just completely BLANKED?!) & HOW DID IT SLIP OFF MY RADAR SO FAST?! It sounds INCREDIBLE & honestly very House of Salt & Sorrows vibe in terms of the creepy fairytale retelling. I HAVE to read it ASAP so we can discuss!

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  4. OH NGOC – YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! It was SO GOOD!

    It’s funny because I am 100% guilty of the same thing. I’m always adding books to my TBR and then never reading them because apparently that’s just something us bloggers do??? I think I’ve had The Lunar Chronicles sitting on my Goodreads TBR for like, four years or something. Whoops.

    Hit me up when do pick To Kill a Kingdom up because I’m going to need to rave about it with you! ❤

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  5. […] The first thing I loved about this book? It is a retelling. And now you might be thinking “Yes, Emma. It’s retelling. No sh-t.” But! I don’t mean just a retelling of the OG Hans Christian Anderson tale ( although this definitely was ) but also a couple of nods here and there to the Disney version too. The first link to the original story was that the sirens would turn to sea foam when they died. Another is that Lira must steal the heart of Elian in a very literal sense as retribution to the Sea Queen and earn her place back in the ocean. In the traditional tale we see the little Mermaid attempting to catch the Prince’s heart – through love. Eventually, when she is unable to do so and watches him marry another woman she then is offered the chance to take his heart with a knife from the Sea Witch. While there are obviously quite a few more, these are the most obvious ones that I noticed while reading To Kill a Kingdom for the first time. Yes, I say the first time because I plan on reading this again. Quite a few times. This may be an emotional support read now. Something that Alexandra picked up on ( with her beautifully placed GIF’s ) is the links between this book and the Disney film, so I totally ask you to go check out her review too! […]

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