Title: To Kill a Kingdom
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
In a nutshell (Amazon):
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?
Now, normally, I’d not even think of picking up this book, what more read. But one of my goals this year is to read books out of my comfort zone and this came to me highly recommended. And so I read it.
First, the gist: This novel (so glad it isn’t a series!! And I mean this in a good way) alternates between Princess Lira and Prince Elian. Lira is a fierce and feared siren. Every birthday, she collects hearts of princes. She takes pride in what she does. One day, she broke a rule by collecting a heart early. This angered her mother, the Sea Queen who decides to turn Lira into a human, the most hated creature in all of sirens kingdom. To prove to her mother she is worthy of being the future Sea Queen, one that is ruthless and utterly unforgiving, Lira decides to steal Prince Elian’s heart, a pirate soon to be a King. She has till Winter Solstice or will be doomed to remain as a human forever.
Prince Elian, whose heart is set to lead his life at sea with his crew and ship, hunting and destroying sirens, with the ultimate aim to end Prince’s Bane, i.e. Princess Lira, doesn’t want to be the King of Midas. Elian’s and Lira’s paths cross when he rescues her from the sea. His interest in keeping her in his ship piqued when Lira reveals that she has knowledge that will help them retrieve the Second Eye of Keto, the “ruby eye of the great sea goddess, taken from the sirens” that’ll destroy the Sea Queen, with ease. With that, he decides to take her in, although warily, as she has yet to prove that she can be trusted.
I was surprised I enjoyed this book. So, so surprised. I thought I’d have some eye-rolling moments. I did not. I thought I’d skim through the pages and get to the end. But no, I wanted to read every word this young author wrote. I thought I’d regret reading this and will have a hard time telling my friend I didn’t enjoy it, but it turned out the opposite! What a relief!
I think this is my first YA fantasy book, with with a love story that didn’t leave me nauseated. I’m envious of Christo’s writing skills. I loved how she was able to show the changes that Elian and Lira (hers especially) were experiencing – the dilemma, their conflicts of being loyal vs being true to themselves, and their journey to self discovery. It was so emotional that I teared (a little! haha) whenever Lira’s heart ached or soared. I loved how Lira finally came to terms with herself that she and Elian were not that different.
“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.”
Although the friendly, flirtatious, sassy banter throughout the book made the characters somewhat similar, it didn’t bother me, simply because they were playful and fun to read. They put a smile on my face, especially Kye and Mira, my favorite characters in fact.
If you’re not a young adult anymore, (like me LoL) but you want to get out of the comfort of your home and venture out into the ocean while being in the company of merciless sirens and charming, conniving pirates, pick this one up. With great writing, fun characters, quippy dialogues and a believable enemies-turned-lovers trope, you’ll have helluva ride! (Just arm yourself though, and bring ear plugs! You don’t want to be hypnotized by the enchanting voices of those sly sirens!) 😊