To Kill a Kingdom
Published: March 2018
Page count: 342
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Goodreads: See here!
Plot at a Glance:
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?
I haven’t been this betrayed by the hype machine since I read Falling Kingdoms By Morgan Rhodes last year.
This book has been all over social media for months surrounding it’s publication. It’s earned a lot of praise and accolades across the book blogging community and I hope you’ll all forgive me for saying this – but I just don’t get it.
To be blunt about it: this book put me into a mini slump. I wish I was as wowed by the plot, or enamored with the characters as everyone else seems to be, but I struggled to find anything here that really grabbed me. In fact, so much of this seemed derivative, and cliched that I found myself wanting to do basically anything else besides reading every time I picked this book up.
I’ve seen a lot of people describe this book as a dark fairy tale. I guess it’s that, if you prefer your darkness to just be a lot of implied violence happening offscreen and being told that things are scary instead of actually being shown scary things happening.
To me, that’s what the majority of this book was: a lot of telling the audience how to feel about everything rather than showing, and allowing the world and characters to grow organically. But at the same time, the writing felt sparse and lacking in detail in many places. It was almost like reading an early draft of a much better novel. Like I could see glimmers that intrigued me, but nothing so captivating that I felt compelled to read on.
The worldbuilding is almost non-existent. The Siren culture never rang true to me. They’re a brutal underwater species, closer to sharks and squids than they really are to human beings. Lira, the princess of her species, is known colloquially above and below the sea as the “Prince’s Bane,” because she has hunted and killed one human prince for each year she’s been alive – and keeps their hearts under her bed.
We never really learn why, or how the heck she’s managed to find 17 separate princes to murder and why the human world hasn’t figured out that it’s probably safer to keep your royalty traveling by land at this point.
The Sirens are also ruled by the Sea Queen, a cardboard and cartoonish villain if ever I’ve seen one. Every line of dialogue she utters would fit in perfectly in an Austin Powers movie. Christo aims for sinister with her Sea Queen, and it just comes off as plain old silly.
Not even murdering 17 human princes is enough to please Lira’s mother, who curses her daughter with a human body and tasks her with killing Elian, the human prince of the Midasian kingdom. As the first plot point to kick off the story, it’s really weak, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and should have been my first clue to check out of this one before I’d really made it out of the starting gate.
Lira and Elian and their “romance” are definitely the worst part of this novel. I never bought their motivations, or their eventual attraction to one another. Lira comes from a bloodthirsty and animalistic race. She is quite literally a murderess of human men at the start of the story, and Elian hunts her kind for sport. He literally finds her floating in the middle of the ocean with no explanation as to how she gets there and can speak the Siren’s language, but he still falls for her. I never once believed that romantic connection between these two characters. It’s just so stilted and inherently false.
The dialogue certainly doesn’t help matters either. Every character has the exact same voice, and sense of humor. They’re all constantly bantering with one another and the worst part about it is that absolutely none of it is funny or even a little bit witty. Writing that is supposed to read clever but is anything but is a pet peeve of mine. Can we just have human characters who talk like real human beings? Do they all need to be outrageously witty and constantly cracking wise with one another?
Every so often a book comes along that reminds me why buying into hype completely is a bad idea. I was so into the idea of this book. It sounded great on paper, and everyone seems to love it, but the experience put into practice was another story entirely.
I’m giving this 2 stars because this is still a debut novel, and because so many people seem to love it, so perhaps I’ve missed something. That being said, the prose read awfully young to me for a Young Adult novel, and was way less captivating than I was hoping it would be.
🌟🌟 = 2 out of 5 stars
Have you read this? What did you think of it? Lets chat about it below!