Rating: 5/5 Stars
I received this novel in exchange for an honest review.
This. Freaking. Book. It's so refreshing to dive into a stand-alone fantasy novel that is so rich and rewarding. Granted because of my pregnancy it took me a while to get through, but trust me when I say that is at no fault of the book. To Kill A Kingdom follows Lira, the daughter of the Sea Queen and deadly siren known as the Prince's Bane and Prince Elian, reluctant royalty and renowned pirate. With their fates intertwined we get a profound story about found family and overcoming the scars of trauma with a hate to love romance sprinkled on top.
As always I'll start with what I loved and end with the weaker points of the novel, although granted there aren't many!
First lets start with Christo's writing. She's excellent at writing dialogue, and some of the banterous back-and-forths that occur between some of the characters genuinely made me laugh out loud. Christo is also very good at painting very clear descriptions; its obvious she knows how to get the maximum gratification with as few words as possible; if you're familiar with my reviews you'll know I love a good, concise sentence.
I'll dive further in, by saying that I loved Lira as a main character. She is the perfect example of an unreliable narrator; we open the novel believing as she does that she is a violent, unforgiving and ruthless killer. But as we learn more of her past and her relationship with her mother the Sea Queen, we begin to get a more detailed picture of Lira and how her behaviour is actually a product of being in such a dangerous and abusive environment even though Lira does not directly confront this aspect of herself until quite a way into the novel.
Elian is an interesting character too, but I didn't quite love him as much as I did Lira. I appreciated the fact that he wasn't a copy and paste love interest, and as I said above his penchant for banter with his pirate crew had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. On the subject of his crew; I liked Madrid and Torik was also a really funny character however I would have liked a bit more exposition with regards to all of the crews backstory beyond the few brief lines we were given to contextualise where they were from and how they came about joining Elian on his voyages. I think a little more character building on the part of the supporting characters would have really helped build upon my investment in them.
The plot is very fast paced, so be sure if you pick this up you take your time with it. It feels like the kind of book you could drink up in one sitting and have forgotten all the bits you loved about it because you got through it so quickly. In that regard I'm glad I had no choice but to take my time with it. It's a book that begs to be savoured. In terms of the story, I enjoyed where our characters went though its a shame we didn'y get to see more of the hidden worlds beneath the sea, though I can understand why that was the case. I'm just a sucker for world building so I can't help but exercise an insatiable need for more world building and exposition. Christo is great at avoiding info-dumps though I have to give her credit for that.
In terms of some of the weaker points, one is to do with formatting in that the e-ARC I received had no distinction between the two narrative points of view so it would occasionally take some time for me to figure out whose head I was hovering in. As I understand it however that issue is not present in the print versions of the book. I think the narrative voices of both Lira and Elian were very similar in some ways, so if I had to give one more significant pointer it would be that there isn't much distinction between the two voices. That could have been intended however, as both Lira and Elian admit that they are incredibly alike.
In any case its hardly a reason not to pick up the book, and in fact I encourage you to do so. This novel opened up a well of need I didn't know I had: mermaid/siren novels! Its a truly fantastic read.
Find To Kill A Kingdom on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34499221-to-kill-a-kingdom