Thursday, June 7, 2018

To Kill A Kingdom

To Kill a Kingdom
Alexandra Christo

I received an eGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book has gotten a lot of love from the community lately. I keep seeing it appear on my feeds when people tote it as one of their favorite reads of the year so far. I really wish I could have been one of those people because I was looking forward to it. Sirens are pretty much always a win with me, so are fairy tale retellings. AND pirates. But even though it had all three the book just failed to grab me the way I wish it could have. I will say, it was a good book in the fact that it told a story beginning to end and was satisfying with it's conclusion. There are so rarely standalone novels in YA and I do appreciate that this did a good job in that category. I will also say I wouldn't say no to a spinoff featuring Madrid... but that's just me.

Let's start with the good: The world building and the final third. Obviously I can't speak much about the ending since that would spoil quite a deal of this book. However, the final third or so was my absolute favorite bit of it. I was for a short time considering DNFing this one but I'm very glad I didn't. Everything about how it ended-- the character's, the actions, the emotions-- was on point and completely satisfying. Okay, but the world building. It was such a unique world, one built of a bunch of different islands. And when I say a bunch I really, really mean there are so many. I can't remember if they ever say exactly how many (I want to say in the thousands maybe?) but the world really did feel as large as it was meant to. And each island had its own interesting features and cultures. I particularly liked that so many of these islands were visited by the characters, and even though this sometimes felt like it was kinda pointless and just pushing the story forward for the sake of making it longer, I enjoyed the exploration of the world.

I did not enjoy the "magical abilities" or whatever exactly they were that the rulers/ruling families of the islands seemed to have. For one, it didn't really make sense why they had them. For another, it just didn't really seem to work with the wider story. It felt tacked on, and I don't think that these abilities were really needed. They weren't even that interesting to me and felt kind of cliched.

I also wasn't a huge fan of the characters. I did warm up to them by the end but it took too long and I never really connected. I think the fact that it's a retelling of The Little Mermaid made it harder to connect with Lira and Elian because I knew they would have to end up together, or at least be star-crossed lovers of a sort and I just wasn't buying it. I did appreciate how savage Lira was as a character and I really liked the growth she went through, but I never really bought Elian's character arc or his views of the world. He felt pushed into one direction for the sake of Lira's story more than for the sake of his own many times. As for the side characters, I never really connected with any of them, either, except Madrid, whom I adore. She was the standout the entire time and it's a shame she didn't have more to do because I really enjoyed everything she did. Her background, too, was intriguing and she was the most well-rounded of all the side characters.

Honestly I have very little to say about this book. It wasn't great but it wasn't bad. I can see the appeal and I did love the ending. However, there was just too much I couldn't get behind or connect with. I am interested to see what this author writes next, though, because I did like the writing and I did like the potential quite a bit. Maybe not an auto-buy author, but definitely one I'll keep an eye on. (PS. her next book is listed as "gangster fantasy" on goodreads, so, yeah, I'm pretty sold already).
TL;DR I wasn't as big a fan as many seem to be, but I did enjoy the final act and I would say if you're interested give it a try.

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?
Alexandra Christo decided to write books when she was four and her teacher told her she couldn't be a fairy. She has a BA in Creative Writing and works as a copywriter in London, both of which make her sound more grown up than she feels. When she's not busy making up stories, she can be found buying far too many cushions and organizing food crawls all over the city.

Alexandra currently lives in Hertfordshire with an abundance of cacti (because they're the only plants she can keep alive).
 Book cover linked to Goodreads. Book cover, and description taken from Goodreads. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm hoping to try this one for myself and we'll see what I think. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sam. :)

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