Saturday, March 24, 2018

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Firstly, thanks to Allen & Unwin for this review copy <3

Date Read: March 12 - 15 2018
Date Released: March 6th 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Fantasy
My Rating:

"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?"


Honestly, what DIDN’T I love about To Kill a Kingdom? The answer is not much because this was a darn near perfect book. A debut you say? Could’ve had me fooled.

To Kill a Kingdom is a Little Mermaid inspired tale, but Christo has given this a dark twist. Siren princess Lira is no damsel in distress. Known as the Prince’s Bane, she instils fear in the hearts of men, and then rips their hearts out… literally. She basically feared nobody (except her seriously scary mum) and was sure of her powers as a Siren. I loved conflicted Lira as a human. Without her powers she was like every other human and her character growth was phenomenal. She saw the value of friendship and loyalty beyond blood, forged through near death experiences and saving each other’s lives. By being human, she was subject to humanity and I thought Christo executed this so well. Lira saw it and felt it all, but she didn’t necessarily understand at first which made her development so believable. At the same time she maintained her fierceness and I’m-not-afraid-of-you-I-will-claw-your-eyes-out-if-you-so-much-as-look-at-me persona. She’s super switched on, doesn’t need to be told twice in a situation where she’s in danger and just has the common sense I wish all heroines had.

Then there is prince and sailor Elian who is definitely more sailor than prince. He’s supposedly a pirate but I didn’t really get this because I didn’t see any hint of him and the crew of the Saad raiding any other ships? Plus everybody knew he was the prince of Midas so he was untouchable anyway. With absolutely no care for the title waiting for him back in Midas, his home is the sea. I loved his longing for adventure, of the need to be free and discover new lands – it really brought my wanderlust to the surface. I admired his loyalty, especially to his crew but also to his kingdom – despite claiming he’d make a horrible prince, he makes sacrifices for his country. Elian’s determination to achieve his goal was inspiring like wow his need to destroy the Sirens was so intense he’d give up what he loved most? I wish I had half that determination to wake up in the morning to go to work… and I get paid too.

The romance was the slowest burn everrrrr, made all the better by the banter. THE BANTER YOU GUYS WOW. Peak sarcasm, wit and sass, Christo had me craughing from the hilarious back and forth between Lira and Elian. I LIVED for their exchanges, and it showed how intellectually matched they were that the banter kept flowing – a battle of brains and a matching of souls if you ask me. Who needs sappy moments when you can have awesome roasting all day?

Christo gives great personality to the crew of the Saad. The banter between Kye and Madrid were especially entertaining, it pleased me greatly that Madrid always came out on top. Also loved that Madrid was all about helping her fellow girls out. There’s also Lira’s cousin Kahlia who I had a soft spot for and I think she really needs a hug. The characters are all diverse – in race/skin colour, sexuality and traditions which heightened the fantasy element. However, it was still obvious that the Pagese were Japanese inspired especially in names and eye shape, but I appreciated that Christo mixed up the rest of the looks what with the white hair/skin and blue lips.

The world-building in this book is stunning. There’s the chilling underwater world of the Sirens, the golden (Egyptian-Greco inspired?) land of Midas and the sweet queendom of Eidyllio which reminded me of Wonderland for some reason. But nothing compared to the descriptions of freezing Pagos. There’s this one part in the book that left me awe-struck and gave me massive Mt Gagazet vibes (Final Fantasy X/Fantasy X-2, Google image it!). Christo descriptions are so detailed I felt myself freezing my arse off along with the Saad crew.

Christo weaves this all together with her captivating writing. It’s the flowery writing I love, accentuated with banter of the highest calibre. Add on the immersive world-building and everything is tied together with dark undertones, both gritty and sensual at the same time. Lira and Elian’s story is not one to be missed – it’s a tale of humanity, trust and the struggle of living up to expectations whilst finding freedom for yourself.

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