When I first heard about To Kill A Kingdom I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it. I like fantasy but I prefer it to not be too far-fetched. However, I had heard amazing things from both Becca and Gem so I took a gamble and downloaded it from NetGalley – I am so glad I did!
It’s told from a world with many Kingdoms; some on land and some under the sea. Those on land have been at war with the sea dwellers for many years and have lost many sailers, most noticeably Princes, to Sirens who lure them to their death.
Lira is one such Siren, and next in line to take her mother’s throne. Lira likes to take the heart of a Prince on her Birthday every year and this year would have been no exception – had she not defied her mother. Forced to become human until she meets her mother’s demand, Lira ventures into a world she has only ever seen from the Sea.
The Sea Queen, Lira’s mother, is a vicious monster (read: nastier than Ursula from The Little Mermaid) and although she isn’t a main character she is utterly fascinating. I felt physically tense from any part of the story that involved her. The imagery that surrounds her and her minions is fantastic; it’s dark and vile and makes your skin want to crawl.
Lira herself is such a fantastic character. I hate to watch female leads wither and melt under the male gaze but she doesn’t flinch. She’s incredibly strong, sometimes to her own detriment, but you cannot deny she is a force to be reckoned with. If you’re looking for a book with a kick-ass female lead then your quest ends here, and you won’t be disappointed.
Her male counterpart, Prince (and self-imposed Pirate) Elian is also a refreshing character. Where Lira shows us the perilous underworld, Elian swirls us into the glitz and glamour of the palaces of various Kingdoms. He’s not interested in settling for tradition and instead chooses to live the life of a Siren Hunter with a crew of loyal sailors, trying to rid the seas of vermin he considers them to be.
What I love the most about the two of them together is not that there is gender subversion by role reversal, but they are equally balanced, and I think that is what makes To Kill A Kingdom is a brilliant and visually stimulating book. Everywhere you look there are pirates and monsters and murderers and there is a true sense of traditional Fairytale horror too – do not expect beautiful mermaids or handsome princes. Everything is twisted in it’s own way.
To Kill A Kingdom will sweep you away on a tide of viciousness and never truly let your feet back on to solid ground.