As much as most of us love a good, sweeping epic fantasy series — there is something to be said for the satisfaction of a good, standalone fantasy. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo is one of those deeply satisfying, standalone fantasies.
A loose retelling of The Little Mermaid, but more murdery, To Kill a Kingdom is a totally seductive read, filled with a swoon-worthy pirate prince, a siren with stabby tendencies, and the quest that throws them together as unlikely (and wary) comrades.
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?
With pirates and mermaids, To Kill a Kingdom already had a lot going for it in my book — but I also loved all the romance and adventure found within these pages. I actually didn’t realize it was a standalone until partway through — and when that happened, I started enjoying the book even more — because I no longer anticipated an agonizing cliffhanger. (And boy, was I preparing for a doozy — there’s a LOT at stake in this book, which kept me engaged and eager to keep reading.) Instead, I knew I’d find the story resolved by the last page — and it was so satisfying to get all the romance and adventure and tension that comes in a cool fantasy story, without having to wait for the next installment (or remember what happened, and who’s who by the time the next book comes out).
The fantasy world is lush and well-developed (especially when you consider it’s a standalone), and I found it easy to get my footing in both Lira’s and Elian’s worlds. Seeing these two characters come together was wildly entertaining, and seeing the tenuous relationship develop was really satisfying.
I also love the way Christo played with the concept of The Little Mermaid story and really used it as a launching pad for a fantasy that feels epic in scope, but was also still very much about these individual characters, their passions, and their growth over the course of the book.
Look for To Kill a Kingdom in stores March 6th.