To Kill a Kingdom: …but to merely disable a deadly love affair

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo fantasy book reviewsTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo fantasy book reviewsTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

I loved the concept for this book. Siren princess (Lira) is punished by her power hungry Sea Queen mother for harboring a shred of “human” sentiment, and therefore, forced to seek the heart of a siren-hunting prince. Prince (Elian) casts about on the deep, in self-imposed exile from his own kingdom, vanquishing the world of the human killing sirens dominating the sea, and his only true home.

There were times, yes, many times when the narrative prose was lyrical and immersive and it drew me right in to this commercially quite popular story. Regrettably, that voice was inconsistent. In the main, I think this is due to imperfectly executed dual POV.

It’s hard to do dual POV well. Lira’s voice was by far the stronger of the two. Prince Elian had narrative responsibility for the “rag tag” crew’s assembly and much of their dialogue. And this brings up another opportunity missed. The crew should have been really interesting and richly voiced a la Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. But it wasn’t even close. Crew member dialogue was fairly trite and lacked interest.

My greatest disappointment — many people won’t agree with me and so be it — was the romance. Lira and Elian hated each other, or were supposed to, but this relationship had no particular tension, considering what they were to each other. There should have been loads of tension. But there was so much inevitability about the direction of their romance. Yes, there was a long way to go, but you knew they would get there. There were no really interesting scenes. No solid repartee. I couldn’t figure out where the attraction really came from. Sure, Elian’s a likeable guy and he did fish her out of the ocean. But sworn enemies don’t fall over that easily. These do. Or so I felt.

I will say this, Alexandra Christo had a hard job. Lira was a difficult character to make a reader connect with, but she pulls this transition off, by hook or crook. There was a lot of tension between herself and The Sea Queen — much more than between herself and Elian. It was a convincing rivalry and I really wanted Lira to win. This was the most interesting part of the book. To Kill a Kingdom is Christo’s debut, and I will look out for better work to come.

Published March 6, 2018. 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 and 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?

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TAYA OKERLUND's first career was in public service in the federal government. She previously lived in Japan and China and speaks both Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. More recently, she authored YA novel Hurricane Coltrane (WiDo, 2015) and currently reads and writes in spare moments between therapy runs and child rearing heroics.

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2 comments

  1. Taya, even before I read the review, your subheading made me laugh out loud.

    • Taya Okerlund /

      Thanks, Marion. With practice, I will eventually get the reviews right, too.

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