I have a confession to make: I’m a little picky when it comes to retellings. They’re all the rage these days, and while some put a brand new spin on a familiar story, others… don’t. ☹️ Too often, I feel like I’m reading something I’ve read before, and I anticipate what comes next far too easily. That’s why it was so refreshing to read Alexandra Christo’s debut novel To Kill a Kingdom. Sure, it’s (sort of) a retelling. A young, beautiful girl with flaming red hair who lives in the sea and is turned into a human… Sound familiar? 😉 But in this story, that lovely girl is actually pretty wicked. And her charming prince? Not the particular brand of charming you might expect…
If you want to read more about this book before we dive in (har-har 🐟), click here for a short synopsis!
What I Liked: While this is sort of a Little Mermaid retelling, it’s much, much more than that. Lira is a siren who collects the hearts of princes (seriously, she buries them in her bedroom 😱), and Elian is a prince who also considers himself a pirate — a siren-hunting pirate. Can I just tell you how much I love Elian? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS. ❤️ If you’re a fan of Leigh Bardugo’s famed privateer prince, Nikolai Lantsov, I suspect you’ll feel similarly.
I don’t want to reveal too much about the story, because this is such a delightfully delicious read and I would hate to spoil anything. But WOWWWWW. ⭐️ Adventure, romance of the angsty variety, incredible imagery, clever references to familiar stories and myths, and such a remarkably original twist on this type of tale. The writing is superb. I’m usually awful at highlighting or jotting down quotes, but this book had so many fantastic ones, I couldn’t help myself.
What I Disliked: It took me a few chapters to really get into this book, and I’m still not sure why. I think I had to adjust to the dual narrative structure, and it was occasionally difficult to tell when the POV switched. (The chapters aren’t labeled in the ARC — like “Lira” or “Elian” — but I’ve heard that they are in the finished version of the book, so this shouldn’t be a problem from here on out.)
I’m still trying to decide how I feel about the ending. 🤔 And don’t even get me started on the fact that this is a standalone. It’s just my luck… I’ve read books lately that aren’t standalones but that I feel should be, and I’ve read standalones that I feel should be part of a longer series, or at least a duology. ALAS. But honestly, I didn’t have any major issues with this book, and it exceeded all of my expectations with flying, vicious, heart-wrenching colors.
Even if you’re not usually interested in retellings, I would really recommend giving this book a shot. It is, without a doubt, one of the most compelling, original, and well-written retellings I’ve ever read, and I will be eagerly anticipating future books from Christo.
Publication Date: March 6th
About the Author: Alexandra Christo
**Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.