BOOK REVIEW: Alexandra Christo “To Kill a Kingdom”

34499221Title: To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

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 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?

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts: 

This is how you write a retelling, people. It doesn’t have to be the same in every way and it’s okay if it’s a looser portrayal. To Kill a Kingdom is a re-imagining of The Little Mermaid, and I have to say that I loved it even more than the original.

Now truth be told I don’t actually love the original Disney adaptation with Ariel’s insisting “but Daddy, I love him” and claiming she’s “not a child anymore” when she’s 16. (You know you’re getting old when you start to side with the adults in kid’s movies?) I also can’t say that I’m all too familiar with the original original story, except that I know it’s quite sad so I have no interest in it. Happily ever after or bust, man.

Yet Allie Christo’s adaptation was everything I need from a good story: morally grey MCs, hilarious secondary characters, a psycho villain, slow-burn romance, clever banter and action.

I had my doubts about this book considering I have no love for Ariel and Eric, but Lira and Elian are bae and I say this unironically. From the very beginning, I rooted for them both and they were such believable characters. Even though they weren’t likable right of the bat, I connected with them and in turn, grew to love them.

The world that Christo created was fascinating, both on land and in the water. I loved the world of the sirens and mermaids and also loved the different kingdoms and cultures that Elian’s crew encounters. Plus, the dynamics between Lira and Elian were amazing: Lira, siren, Princes’ Bane and Elian, pirate, prince, siren hunter. And yet throughout the book, only Lira knows both of their identities since Elian still believes that she’s human.

Also let’s talk about the writing: it was incredible.

… Oh, I thought I had more to say about that. Moving on.

In conclusion, To Kill a Kingdom was such a fun, satisfying romp and Christo has been added to my list of authors on my auto-buy list. My wallet says thanks.

 

Alexandra Christo: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Tricia Levenseller “Daughter of the Pirate King”

33643994Title: Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Genre: Fantasy/Action Adventure

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map—the key to a legendary treasure trove—seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate, Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Goodreads Synopsis

My thoughts:

This had all the makings of an entertaining, action-packed read: snarky female character, swoony love interest and unique magical elements. Instead, all I felt was frustration throughout this entire reading process.

Alosa is, as the title mentions, the pirate king’s daughter. This makes her incredibly well-trained, smart and quick, so her father sends Alosa on a mission to steal a piece of a map which is hidden on board an enemy ship. To do this, she purposely allows the ship’s captain to take her prisoner so that she can then escape and search for the map piece. At any point, Alosa could supposedly easily escape if she wanted to, except she obviously wants to stay on board until she completes her mission.

See, but here’s the thing: if she could so easily escape undetected, why is it that every time she broke out of her cell to search the ship, she ends up getting caught? If she’s so dang good, why does she continue to be found out? Every time someone finds her out of her cell, she makes some half-hearted attempt to escape so that the crew continues to think that she truly doesn’t want to be there. Yet after the third, fourth, fifth time, it just became pathetic.

So in this barely 300-page book, Alosa spends practically the first 225 pages escaping, unsuccessfully searching for the map piece, getting caught and being thrown back in her cell. Over and over and over again. It just became so old and repetitive that it took away much of the enjoyment for me.

Otherwise, I feel I would have loved this. Alosa and Riden (the captain’s brother and first mate) exchanged some hilarious flirtatious banter that made me laugh out loud several times. I loved the siren abilities that Alosa is eventually revealed to have later in the book; her ability to see people’s emotions as colors in her siren vision and the things she was able to do with her song was so cool.

Things finally started to pick up and start happening in the last 75 pages or so of the book, but by then I was so done that I couldn’t bring myself to care. It’s really unfortunate that I didn’t like this more. However, I’m fully planning to read the sequel, Daughter of the Siren Queen, because I have hopes that it will be a significant improvement on the first book. Hopefully Levenseller focuses more on Alosa’s abilities and on creating a more engaging plot. For now though, this remains an unsatisfactory debut.

 

Tricia Levenseller: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads