To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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?
A dark retelling of The Little Mermaid, To Kill a Kingdom explores the question - What if Ariel was a killer and Eric was one of her greatest threats?

I've been dying to read To Kill a Kingdom for ages. I always enjoy retellings and when an author can put such a great dark twist on the Disney version we all know and love it's always a good time.

Princess Lira is the parallel version of Ariel who's version of treasure is hearts buried in sand. She takes royal hearts like her mother did for her as a child. These hearts are meant to bring power, prestige, and a way to get revenge on humans. By taking royal princes hearts, she is taking away the future of their kingdom's. One man will not let that happen.

Elian is the parallel version of Eric who hates being tied down to his kingdom, is a pirate, and the best siren killer in all the seas. One siren that has eluded him is the fiery, Prince's Bane, who he has sworn to kill. Unbeknownst he's about to get his chance.

The introduction of Lira is a pure masterpiece. She's not a weak, terrifying looking mermaid obsessed with becoming human. She is a violent princess who will do anything to steady her mother's wrath and prove that she is a worthy successor, but she makes a mistake that changes her life forever. As a result, she is transformed into a human and must find a way to get out of her situation with the help of one of her greatest enemies.
“I reach out my hand to pull her up, and the look Lira gives me is nothing short of poisonous. “Do you want me to chop it off?” she asks. I keep my hand hovering in the space between us. “Not particularly.” “Then get it out of my face.”
Lira is the best part of this book. I absolutely love this warrior princess. Not only is she a warrior but she has a kind side too that you see take shape mainly with her bond with her cousin. Her motives that drive her are compelling. She faces many new emotions when she becomes human. I enjoyed her progression as a character and insights to her past. Her aggressiveness, wit, and the honest way in which she spoke was well placed but also balanced out by her more protective, kind gestures.
“Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.”
Elian is a bit less compelling but he is still interesting. I like how he's a siren killer and he is doing it all to protect not only his kingdom but every kingdom across the land. He has a selfless quality that gets him in a lot of trouble but it is a commendable one. He's mostly an take action type of guy who sometimes thinks things through. I never understood why he trusted Lira so easily. There was an obvious red flag, multiple ones really, and yet he still chose to trust her. Is she that beautiful or is he that reckless?

One of the other things that further bothered me because of this almost immediate trust of Lira was Lira and Elian's banter in the beginning. It felt too forced. Again, I couldn't wrap my head around how much Elian trusted her right away so their banter in the beginning so this portion of the story I quickly read through. I did enjoy their relationship once a certain event occurred and was grateful after the fact because now I could enjoy their budding relationship.

I didn't care for the side characters. There were a few crew members that were friends of Elian that were put there for readers to try to care for but I just didn't feel it. They were okay at times. Frankly, Elian could have treated his best friend better. He could be annoying with the way he dismissed his friends concerns. I would be that friend in the situation though so that's why I was probably bothered by it so much. If something is the least bit shady, skeptical me will continually warn you and try to get you out of the situation.
“Love is a word we scarcely hear in the ocean. It exists only in my song and on the lips of the princes I’ve killed. And I have never heard it from my mother’s mouth.”
The Sea Queen was the most perfect, vile villain ever. She did not care for her daughter whatsoever. It's nice to have a villain so clear cut evil. It makes scenes with them all the more fun.

The writing, although I didn't enjoy the immediate trust and some of Elian's scenes, was fantastic. This is the retelling I never knew I wanted but needed. This is a debut novel as well so I am highly impressed with Christo. I can't believe she is already coming out with a book next year called Into the Crooked Place. I can't wait to read more of this author's work in the future. It'll be nice to see her progression as a writer.

Thanks to NetGalley and Feiwel & Friends for letting me read To Kill a Kingdom in exchange for an honest review! 

What character would you love to read a dark retelling about?


  1. Ariel is my favorite Disney princess, so I definitely have this one on my TBR - glad you enjoyed the writing even if some of the other elements weren't as good!

    1. If Ariel is your favorite Disney princess then I'm sure you'll enjoy To Kill a Kingdom. I was able to overlook the other elements which is nice since I was reading bad book on top of bad book where I couldn't ignore the problems.

  2. Oh I love that mermaid GIF- that is the BEST. And Lira sounds awesome, frankly. I love how dark this sounds. A debut also- wow!

    1. The gif is from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Stranger Tides. Yeah, it's impressive for a debut. I actually find most debuts to be done well compared to some series reads.

  3. I just bought this one so I am happy to see that you have a lot of positive things to say about it. Sounds like a great twist on a well known story. Great review!

    1. I hope you love it! Let me know whenever you read it so we can compare thoughts (:

  4. I really enjoyed this book as well! Love the mermaid gif!

  5. I love retellings and twists. This sounds like a fascinating version. I am glad you liked this one enough to want to read the next book by this author. Awesome! :)

    1. This author really has potential. I'm hoping her sophomore book lives up to the hype I've given her. Those second books always seem to be tough.

  6. So I've heard a lot about this book, but it wasn't until today that I discovered that it's a Dark Little Mermaid Retelling! And now, thanks to your review, I'm adding it to my tbr because it sounds great!

    ~L. Reviews by Leeve


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