Back in the spring, it seemed like every YA bookcrate to exist was doing this book…and for good reason. This is a solid debut title…and a standalone at that! It was refreshing to pick up an exciting, complete story without worry of cliffhangers.
This Little Mermaid retelling poses a new concept: What if Ariel (in this book…Lira) were a siren known for taking the hearts of princes? What if Prince Eric (in this book…Elian) were a known siren killer? When Lira accidentally saves Elian’s life she is turned human against her will by the Sea Queen with the ultimate ultimatum: take Elian’s heart, or stay human forever.
Ahhhh, this one is good. I bought this book and had it signed back in March, at the NOVA Teen Book Festival, but kept delaying my reading of it. I wanted too much for it to be good! Fortunately, this title didn’t disappoint. I only have one complaint…the climax of this book is a bit rushed and tough to follow. Christo excels in her character development and interactions, and not necessarily with her action sequences. That aside, this whole book is a delight.
Multiple narrators is the vice of many books, but it works well for this title. Lira and Elian are cut from the same cloth–tough and brutal, with a love of the sea–but their voices are distinct. The chapters flow perfectly from one voice to the other.
Lira and Elian are the kind of characters that don’t get protagonist treatments all that often in YA. In a different story, both would turn out to be villains, as they spend most of their time in moral grey areas. In that way, I would compare this story to The Cruel Prince, though Lira and Elian develop a sweeter romance with a softer resolution than that of Jude and Cardan.
To Kill a Kingdom is one of those books with a terrific supporting cast. Sure, you’ll love Lira and Elian even with their murderous ambitions, but Elian’s crew is A++.
The ultimate goal of our characters merges to find the Crystal of Keto to stop the Sea Queen. A Macguffin-hunt, in lesser titles, wouldn’t be worthy of discussion. In this title it works. The journey is most of the story, and it’s dark and tense, hinging on the character moments leading up to the Macguffin discovery.
I think this may be my first ever YA Little Mermaid retelling. And yes, it was so so so good. For a deliciously dark take on a classic story, To Kill a Kingdom is a must-read.