To Kill A Kingdom
Author: Alexandra Christo
Narrators: Jacob York and Stephanie Willis
Genre: YA Dark Fantasy / Twisted Fairytale
“To them, the sea is never the true danger. Even crawling with sirens and sharks and beasts that can devour them whole in seconds. The true danger is people. They are the unpredictable. The betrayers and the liars.”
― Alexandra Christo, To Kill a Kingdom
This is a wickedly stunning debut from Alexandra Christo, and I loved every minute of it. I listened to the audiobook for this one, because I’ve been absolutely swamped this week and I can multitask much better with someone reading to me than I can with a book in my hands. Stephanie Willis and Jacob York did a wonderful job of bringing this dark fantasy world alive, and I couldn’t stop listening.
Lira is a siren princess. Actually, she’s the siren princess, sole heir to the throne. Think that’s a cliché? Well, when you add in the fact that it’s a sea queendom, sirens are reclaimed as the deliciously vicious creatures that they are, and Lira’s mother would rather get rid of her daughter than step down from the throne, I can be content with another princess story.
Lira, non-favored daughter that she is, makes a big mistake and her mother’s idea of a punishment is to embarrass her in front of the whole kingdom, weakening her in the eyes of the people that she is set to rule in a few short years. Lira then gets it in her head that bringing her mother the heart of the siren-hunting prince that is plaguing their waters will be a sufficient sacrifice to avoid this punishment.
Elian, crown prince of Midas, feels more at home onboard his ship than in his golden palace. He spends his days hunting the sirens that threaten the seas. Despite his murderous tendencies, he can’t help but stop when they encounter a drowning girl in the middle of the ocean with no other ships in sight.
I. Loved. This. Book. There are a number of reasons why, but let’s focus on the reasons it earned a 4.8/5 rating.
Stylistically, Alexandra Christo is amazingly talented. Since I was listening to the audiobook, her words combined with Stephanie Willis’ performance literally sent chills down my spine at times. The prose painted a refreshing re-telling of a classic tale, and even though the ultimate ending was easy to predict (it is a twist on a fairytale after all), it managed to keep me thoroughly engaged. It was smooth without being too simple, and the protagonists were pleasantly mature for their age.
The protagonists were refreshing as well in a love-to-hate, slow burn that had the perfect amount of sass. There were no gullible obsessions, no shy blushes, no butterflies in the stomach. Lira and Elian worked well together, because of how they were equals and I am here for romances like this. Both characters were strong enough to stand on their own, but they were stronger together.
As far as twisted fairytales go, this one is high on my recommended list. The extra oomph that brought it to the higher level of my ranking comes from Alexandra Christo’s subtle nods to various other myth and folklore tales and the dry wit that she infused her characters with. There was no shy innocence, nor gullibility. The purpose and reliability of her narrators allowed me to immerse myself fully in her tale, and not return from its depths until Jacob York read the closing credits.