To Kill A Kingdom
By Alexandra Christo
June 10, 2020
Ever wish you had the perfect “breather” story to read in between those brutal, soul wrenching moments, when you’re hanging between the balance of a series hangover?
You know what I mean. After late nights of binging series full of betrayal, rage, war, broken love, irredeemable trust, you close the book and take a long, shuddering breath. And in these times, your heart demands a light read to get you back in the game for another heavy-hitter series.
To Kill A Kingdom is that novel for you. The perfect in-between. It’s such a fun story and I’m delighted to share my thoughts about it with you. Of course, these are all my opinion. You may walk away loving it, or hating it.
However, I feel a type of way, and these are the reasons why. Read this review in its entirety. And, hopefully, walk away with a better understanding of what this novel is about, and if it might be a read for you to try.
Spoiler alert: You should totally give it a shot!
SPOILER FREE PORTION.
If you find yourself reading this and you’ve never read To Kill A Kingdom before, I’ll make sure this portion of my review contains zero spoilers. I know how much I hate them, and I won’t ruin the story for you buy including them.
To begin, I had absolutely no idea what the heck To Kill A Kingdom was about. True story bro. So, I’ll admit, I went into the story with zero expectations.
I didn’t know the premise, I didn’t know what the inspiration for the story was, none of it. All I knew was it was a water story… and that assumption came from the book cover.
So, it’s fair to let you know: To Kill A Kingdom is a loose re-telling of the classic story, The Little Mermaid.
It was a beautiful twist for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
TKAK follows the conflicting journeys of Elian, Prince of Midas and Siren Hunter, and Lira, Heiress of the Sea Queen and the Prince’s Bane.
That’s right, it’s as romantic as it sounds. This story is a fun, enemies to lovers fantasy romance between a siren killing prince and a prince killing siren.
It’s set mainly on the seas, and involves a motley crew of pirates, a ruthless sea queen, and a journey to see who will kill who first.
This novel is a fast-paced, enemies to lovers, ocean adventure. It comes with a fun twist on sirens and pirates. It also flips your expectation of royals on its head when you meet Prince Elian. The heir of the throne of Midas with a deep love for the ocean.
It also allows you to have a different view of the ocean – how sirens operate, what their hierarchy is like, and how life under the sea is.
This book is thoroughly enjoyable with a vivid setting that takes you through several islands with very unique people groups.
I gave this novel a 4 star rating. There are some things that were done very well, and some things that could have been done much better. Nevertheless, this is a fun read.
I recommend this story and encourage you to get your hands on it.
SPOILERS AHEAD – YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
Alright. You’ve gotten the fluffy, spoiler free version. But that doesn’t really go into detail with what I really think, yeah? So, let’s dive deep. I walked away from To Kill A Kingdom with a lot of thoughts.
Some good, some bad. Overall, they’re genuine and I hope they help your decision in whether or not to pick up Christo’s novel.
The Sea Queen.
The Diavolos Sea.
The Little Mermaid Twist.
There’s definitely a thread of The Little Mermaid in this story. It was a pleasant surprise. (Remember, I didn’t know a thing before diving into page one.) There are striking similarities from Lira, heiress of the sea, to the prince, to her voice being taken, her becoming human, and being thrown on an adventure with the prince. It’s a fun flip of the original tale. But a good one. Nostalgia definitely rang in me a bit as I noticed the similarities. But I also appreciated the differences and how Christo made some parts of the original tale darker. Those were great!
Enemies to Lovers Trope.
I’m biased because I love a good slow burn, enemies to lovers romance. And this one’s it. The majority of the book is Elian and Lira spitting hellfire at each other and it’s GREAT. The novel does a good job at showing them as enemies. Then slowly learning how to be friends as they learn about one another’s kind, before their budding romance develops.
Two heirs. Two worlds. Same motives. One possible outcome.
TKAK journeys with Elian and Lira who are both heirs to their kingdoms. One desires their throne while the other despises it. As they journey throughout the story, they go off motivated by vengeance with a desire to slaughter the other. But along the way, they learn they’re not so different, and what they thought they knew wasn’t reality at all. When their paths collide and the truth is revealed, they have to decide how they’ll react. The futures of their worlds rely upon what they decide.
WHAT TKAK DID RIGHT.
I mean, okay yeah sure, pirates are cool or whatever. The lore of Midas is interesting enough. HOWEVER. I love a good ocean story.
I love an ocean story more if it’s about mermaids.
I love an ocean story even more if it is about sirens!
And Christo does a beautiful job of describing the sirens, and their harsh, brutal way of life. There isn’t anything I didn’t enjoy. Every time it was Lira’s POV, I was excited because I knew I would get more glimpses of the sea and life beneath the surface.
Gosh. I wish there was more. But it was enough to suck me in.
Another thing Christo did well. Nothing is better than MC’s with sharp twitter tongues. I loved Lira’s sharp tongue, and Elian’s snarky comebacks. They were playful, and fun, even though most of the time, their conversations were nothing short of veiled threats. Not to mention, the banter of the pirate crew.
Which leads me to, THE CREW.
Pirates are so fun. And these are no exception. They’re tough, they love their adventures, and they are loyal to their captain to a fault. There isn’t much for me to say except that, they’re typical pirates and I loved every single second.
The Sea Queen.
Phew – when I tell you this queen gave me all the Ursula vibes – times TEN. The cruelty. The lack of remorse or regret. The desire to have her way, keep her crown, control the sea in a demonstrative way. Christo NAILED the Sea Queen. What I wouldn’t have given to have backstory for this woman. She deserved it! Her character was bang on and she stayed true. I hated her of course, but her role was exceptionally executed. Read the novel to see what I mean!
WHAT TKAK DIDN’T DO SO GREAT.
I walked away with far too many questions for my liking. TKAK leaves a lot of open-ended situations, and I wasn’t impressed.
This novel not only follows Lira and Elian’s journey – but it also centers around Elian’s motley crew of pirates. As well as, the Sea Queen.
We don’t learn the motives behind the Sea Queen’s actions. We don’t get backstory for the Sea Queen. And when you read the novel, you’ll learn, she was definitely a character that needed some serious backstory to explain why on earth she did what she did.
Often, with Elian’s crew, it seems like they’re the heart of every part of Elian’s journey and POV. Then, there are times when it seems they’ve disappeared. This was disconcerting as it didn’t follow the flow of the story. Read the novel to see what I mean.
Also, way. too. much. of this world is left without visitation. Because this novel is a standalone, this left me in a book rage. This story deserved another 200 pages just to develop the portrayed expansive world more, including the underdeveloped characters.
I would’ve loved for Christo to go deeper into the island of Kleftesis: the region that breeds slavers, thugs, and hard lived criminals. Even Efrevesi: the island responsible for technology such as airplanes and submarines.
We don’t even get much about Midas, except for the fact that the place is gold. Everywhere. That’s about it. This was incredibly disappointing. More pages would’ve allowed room for this book to be developed far better than it was.
MY STAR RATING, AND MY TAKEAWAYS.
To Kill A Kingdom received 4 stars from me. Problematic as some issues could be, and despite needing several scenes to have taken place to be completely satisfied, I still thoroughly enjoyed this story.
It is fast-paced, has a slow burn romance, battle, betrayal, sacrifice, intrigue, and high personal stakes. What more could we want in YA Fantasy, right? It has a mix of all the good things. Had the points I had qualms with been resolved, I would’ve given it a higher rating.
Nevertheless, it’s enjoyable enough. A great read to digest in between those heavy series that can cause serious bookish hangover. If you don’t expect too much of this book, you’ll love it enough. If you go in with crazy expectations, you’ll leave with a bitter taste in your mouth.
It’s a fun book, and I’ll most probably read it again as a light re-read.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS NOVEL TO READERS?
Absolutely! To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is a fun read. It’s refreshing YA Fantasy with a fun twist on sirens, mermaids, pirates, and royals. I genuinely enjoyed this story and wish I could have more. I could read an entire other novel about Elian and Lira. I wish I could. They’re the cutest enemies to lovers, and I’d recommend this tale to other readers.
For fans of enemies to lovers, the classic story of The Little Mermaid, mystery, beautiful lands, and for an ocean story with pirates and sirens, I highly recommend it. Be sure to read it and let me know what you think!
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Stephanie BwaBwa is a Jesus-centered, multi passionate, creative who’s enjoying building a legacy through the lens of story.
As the CEO and Founder of Bwabs Collective LLC, BwaBwa has focused her zone of genius on the Enneagram Type 5 writer who likes to meticulously plot, research, and organize their way through crafting their stories.
Stephanie BwaBwa is the YA Fantasy author of The Seraphim Resistance Series, and an avid reader of fantasy and fiction.
Jesus is her Lord and lifeline, Disney is her safe place, Capuchin monkeys have her heart, and coffee is the reason she makes it from sunshine to sunshine.
You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park, or simply binging Disney+ with a cuppa Joe in hand. Get in contact with Stephanie directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.