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To Kill a Kingdom Hardcover – March 6, 2018
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Arrogant and often merciless, Lira and Elian are not totally likable, especially in their careless disregard for life, human or otherwise, but there’s an appealing prickliness to their confidence, magnified by their quippy dialogue. As narrators, Lira and Elian have distinct voices, but for all their swagger, both characters are struggling under the expectations of their parents and in their role in war that started long before they were even born. The world building is deft, and the spectacular ending is a happy one for Lira and Elian, but it will leave readers blissfully wanting more."―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"With well-crafted fight scenes and vivid descriptions, Christo has created a world of beauty and monstrosity that will draw readers in."―Publishers Weekly
"Stellar world building and nonstop action will keep readers hooked on this twisted reimagining of “The Little Mermaid."―Booklist Online
"Fantasy fans will like the idea of sirens and piratelike princes as the characters who are imaginative and well developed."―School Library Journal
"Readers who enjoy dark fairy tales of The Little Mermaid persuasion will sink into this bloody tale with pleasure."--RT Book Reviews
About the Author
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). To Kill a Kingdom is her first novel.
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Now the review!
I always like to come across a book that is not the normal-normal of the genre. You know what I mean. Automatically I am going to rate a book higher when the author takes a risk or challenge and chooses a subject matter that might not be rosy to begin with and well, Lira is a siren, who kills ruthlessly. I mean, who would choose a ruthless, otherworld monster as the heroine of a YA novel that needs a happy ending? Laughing. And it's not watered down or shallow. It's for real. This siren can kill you in a heartbeat. Well, no pun intended, but the girl does love her "hearts."
The hero, who is one of the best heroes I've read in YA in a long time, is Prince Elian, the pirate wannabe who is fated to kill sirens and does it so well. And as the title tells, he's not just out to kill a siren, he's out to To A Kingdom, the whole world of the Sea Queen and her brood.
There is a lot of beautiful writing in this book. Hundreds of lines that could be used for quotes and it's not just pretty language, it's philosophy. I love a particular scene leading toward the resolution of the book at Chapter 25 when Lira looks in the mirror and sees her human self, and in the reflection of the mirror stands Elian looking at her. There's a powerful subtext there. The characters in many ways are mirrors of each other. It's the moment where things change and the story and characters arc. It might seem like nothing but it's everything and I know it. From all these years of reading, I see THAT this is the moment for me as a reader, too, when I realize how much depth this book has.
If truth be told, the beginning was a little rough for this reader. These sirens are so ruthless, the world of the Sea Queen so dark and gothic and brutal, I thought, I might not like Lira, but then I loved her, as I had always loved Elian who is a hero to die for, not a bad boy, but a seriously good boy with a killer instinct.
Complex characters, edgy, who are really liminal beings that belong no where and so by duty and love, they fashion a world where they can live and be together. Lessons are learned, hearts are broken and mended. Sacrifices are made. It's messy and I loved it. All of it.
Highly recommended. Just read it, and watch these two characters talk to each other. That dialogue is a love story, itself.
Princess Lira is the MC of this story, and she is a siren. More specifically, she's the daughter of the Sea Queen. Her life has been brutal and she has spent her childhood gaining a reputation as a prince killer. When her mother turns her into a human, Lira is forced to live as one of them in order to get close enough to kill Prince Elian.
I loved both these characters so much! In fact, I loved them all. Lira is brutal and strong and amazing and I loved her. I also loved Prince Elian, who was completely not who Lira (or I) expected him to be. I adored the chemistry between these two characters and loved watching them not trusting each other. I love the enemies to lovers trope so much and, although it goes wrong so often, Alexandra Christo wrote it perfectly! Thankfully, no instalove in sight and the romance is written convincingly, even though you know what's going to happen from page one.
One of the things that makes To Kill a Kingdom so great is the incredible cast of secondary characters. The Sea Queen was honestly kind of terrifying in a way that not many villains achieve and I loved it every time the threat of her was near. I thought Elian's crew and Lira's cousin were all well fleshed out, important side characters and I loved them all!
The world building was also fantastic, blending multiple cultures and mythologies seamlessly. I felt like I could picture each new setting in my mind and, following the characters on their journey, I could almost imagine I was with them! The pacing is also great, not at all too slow. It was just enough to keep me interested with some totally crazy action thrown in here and there.
This brings me to the absolutely amazing plot of To Kill a Kingdom! Confession: I've never read a siren story that I really enjoyed. To Kill a Kingdom did sirens the right way. They are fierce and terrifying. I loved following Lira from that undersea world into one that was totally unfamiliar and watching her go from a girl on a murderous mission to one completely different was thrilling! There were real stakes and urgency and I feel like I'm started into fangirl territory.
To Kill a Kingdom was the biggest surprise I've had this year! I was surprised when it showed up in my mailbox and I was surprised when I absolutely loved it! Although I thought it had an absolutely perfect ending, I am a little sad that there won't be a part two. Alexandra Christo has definitely won a space on my autobuy authors list! Whether you're a fan of sirens and mermaids or not, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book!