I Came Out For Some Sirens x Pirates Shenanigans Tonight and I’m… Mostly Satisfied? // Author: Alexandra Christo // Rating: 3/5
Synopsis: 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?
The beginning of this tale of sirens, mermaids, pirate-ish princes, and desperate quests to change the world was so good. So good. I loved the introductory lines for each of our protags, Lira and Elian, and how they mirrored and complimented each other. These two figures are trapped by circumstance, but embracing those darker aspects of themselves that are helping them to survive. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a “I just don’t want to be king” prince character whom I really liked and understood and believed in his struggle. And Lira, deadly sweet, salty assassin queen. Ugh, I loved her (most) throughout this whole affair. It was these two core characters and their relationship that one, drove the plot, and two, kept me invested.
I deal with the ache of missing them which is far better than the ache of missing the ocean.
Let Me Sink Ever Deeper in These Beautiful Mythic Waters // The Good
- Lira and Elian, OTP: Your Heart in Mine // Let me repeat, I loved these two, and I loved them together, and I loved them apart. The premise of their relationship: a prince killer, coerced and soul-battered into a life of murder and vengence, falls for a siren slayer, trapped between an unwanted throne and the freedom of the sea, all while being in disguise which causes predictable but delicious drama. Reader, I liiiiiive. And I thoroughly enjoyed their banter, their internal journey from initial messed up attraction to unacknowledged “I’m saving you because I care” actions to “oh no how do I not lose everything” climax. Elian and Lira are each other’s mirrors, each other’s salvations, while being their own, whole, complete characters, and that is a good pairing.
- This freaking world of too many kingdoms // I could read Christo’s descriptions of a thousand more kingdoms. What a fun world she created. It’s a bit wishy-washy (why don’t all these princes just stay out of the water like damn) but also magical and creative and faerie tale-esque. There are kingdoms made of gold and intrigue, queendoms of love and isolation, protective walls made of flowers and royal families whose bodies reflect the icy, blue-swept peaks of their mountainous countries. I truly enjoyed this world’s setting, especially it’s possibilities.
- Secondary characters like Sakura (a “plump and pretty” tavern owner) and Madrid (she deserves the world, please and thank) and creeptastic creature design (did you know mermaids are truly the Flotsam and Jetsam of the sea?) // Without being spoiler-y, I was super invested in Sakura and her plotline, and I have at least one note that reads “Can this story be about Madrid?” because she’s the freaking best, full stop. Christo writes fab women characters and that’s part of what made this book quite fun to read.
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.
My Nose is Froze, My (Mer)tail is Froze, Why Did We Climb This Gods-forsaken Mountain??? // The Bad (FYI I Hate Being Cold)
- There are some plot issues that are rough choppy waters // Of course, what the crew of The Saad plus their siren-turned-human need to stop the evil Sea-Witch-Queen is at the top of the highest, coldest mountain. A place furthest from the sea. Of course, they need a necklace key and a ritual and this that and the other MacGuffin to finish off their quest. So that part of the plot, to me, was overdone and not that compelling.
- There she is, floating in the sea, actual siren Lira LaMer!! // I just, really really Elian (and his entire crew)??… just gonna accept this strange girl you scooped out of the ocean? I mean, something is made of keeping her caged up for a while, but even my bae Madrid is all like “she’s cool, I hear she eats nails for breakfast, without any milk, let’s keep her.” Part of me just rolled with it, the other part was like… that could have been done better.
- Some of the writing is cringe-worthy // Yeah, there’s a lot of telling in this book, but what almost killed me, were the sentence-level contradictory and confusing sentiments. At one point Lira laments: “Deciding differently [going against the queen] offers no second chances. My punishment is proof of that.” The queen??? Gave you a second chance?? This whole gosh dang plot is your second chance??????? She literally transformed you to give you the ability to get closer to the prince which was a second chance??? WTF girl come on. Elian mentions in his narrative how he is “not one to listen to the stories [rumors]” but like, my dude, your whole quest is hinging on a children’s book you got from your library?? There’s also the weird image of light that “whimpers” against Lira’s skin T__T And the worst worst thing is the use of a collective plural when applying actions to Elian’s crew. “My crew jumps into anarchy” (which please don’t, that can’t be a good method to get a ship underway) and “My crew flares their nostrils.” I-I-I’m just picturing 100 men and women, nostrils agape, judging. I can’t
- The worst what the actual f/// moment // What kind of logic is there in seeing the victim/result of a country that has slaves and violence and brutally trains killers and then thinking (within tiny paragraphs of each other) “Oh well just gotta use these killers to my advantage, then, there’s no stopping killers once they’ve learned to kill.” Elian? What the actual… I don’t get the point of that paragraph to any other part of this book. It’s random, absurd, and was saddening to read.
- Also licorice = gross // So every single time Lira made note of Elian smelling like aniseed or licorice… I was *shudder* and skipped along.
How strange that instead of taking his heart, I’m hoping he takes mine.
Final Thoughts //
There’s an ocean of a world to love in To Kill A Kingdom. The main couple are a wonderful example of made for each other. I really quite enjoyed Elian’s crew (until they became one entity, flaring their collective nostrils at will) and I loved the rest of the side characters and just wanted more of them (but alas). I think this is a good romp of a swashbuckling, twisted faerie tale, although Elian is not much of a pirate, and not much of the plot happens at sea. So while I loved this world of a hundred kingdoms and would read more from this author… I don’t think I’ll ever be jumping back on to this particular ship. Methinks there are other, more enticing ships to board out there.