To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

by - June 18, 2019

To Kill a Kingdom by Allie Christo (2018)

[featuring a homemade avocado shake that looked better than it tasted lol]

DISCLAIMER: I freaking love this book. It's my favorite YA novel of all time. I tweeted about it once (as a rec) and Allie Christo personally replied. I've been fangirling and freaking out internally ever since.

This book deserves a blog post because it's enemies to lovers DONE RIGHT.


Steamy Hatefuck Scale: 5/5

  • Lira is the Princes' Bane, the siren princess that is known for murdering human princes every year. Prince Elian is a fearsome siren hunter on the quest to extinguish them all. Even before they meet, they already yearn to kill each other. And even after Lira is turned human as punishment, she and Elian still have a deliciously vicious relationship. When they aren't physically attacking each other, they're exchanging barbs so sharp they could spear a man's heart. Eventually the banter softens into plain flirting, but it's still pretty threatening. This is the enemies to lovers bitter dynamic done perfectly. "Steamy hatefuck" doesn't necessarily mean that they actually sleep together; it just means that their UST is thick and barely concealed by their insults. So basically, *chef's kiss*, this book gets a perfect score.

Secret Softness Scale: 4/5

  • Lira and Elian are suspicious of each other at first, but they're forced to work as a team. And as they spend more time together, saving each other from peril, they get to learn more about each other and learn to trust. This novel has really, really fantastic character development too. Contrary to what she herself thinks, Lira does have a heart, and Elian does learn to give people a second chance. This novel is a slow burn, so it's very rewarding to watch the two of them fall in love. But while their love saves the world, it doesn't turn them mushy or into something they're not. In other words, their softness is subtle and believable, and very satisfying given their character and relationships arcs.

I actually want to learn more about this universe scale: 4/5

  • Confession: even though I read a lot of fantasy, I actually care very little for exploring worldbuilding. I care even less for pirate stories. The fact that I adored this universe is in itself a shock to me. I want to learn more about the 100 kingdoms and I want to see Elian and Lira go on more adventures, although it's a standalone novel. And the other characters are also very endearing. This novel is so well-rounded: it has a good romance, plot, worldbuilding, and side-characters that you actually care about.

For Fans of Broody Hero X and Fierce Heroine Y:

Okay, this is hard. My mind is drawing a blank right now. Basically, Elian is the hesitant prince; he'd rather be a pirate than take over the throne. But Lira reminds me of Rachelle from Crimson Bound. They both acknowledge their inner viciousness and darkness; they both constantly remind themselves that they are cold-blooded murderers. But deep down inside, these girls want to do good, and they are inspired by love (both romantic and platonic) that eventually convinces them to change.

On to the review...

Here is the blurb from Goodreads:
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?

To Kill a Kingdom is a dark fairy tale at its core. It's a savage retelling of the Little Mermaid story, except that sirens and humans are at war and each side aims for genocide. Sirens aren't beautiful maidens; they're monsters and creatures of the deep. Tradition dictates that a siren steals a human heart once every year on their birthday. Princess Lira, an ambitious girl that's next in line to be Sea Queen, has a taste for royal hearts only. And above water, Prince Elian is known as the fearsome siren killer, more pirate than prince.

So of course, since both of them are legendary below and above the sea, they already know that they want to kill each other. When Lira is cursed into human form, she's forced to team up with Elian, but as much as she pretends to be a human girl, she does not pretend to be less vicious than she really is. She fights strangers at once, even though she's weak in a human form. She insults and threatens. She's sharp and witty and so unapologetically dark that it's refreshing. Elian is very charming too, and this novel is his story as much as it's hers, as it's told in a dual POV.

I'll try to keep this review spoiler-free so I'll stop there for now. First, I want to say that the prose is so beautiful and stunning. When I was writing my novel, I would read passages of To Kill a Kingdom every now and then to inspire me.

Second, this is on the more mature side of YA. It has violence, death, swearing, and all matter of dark themes that I never thought would be in a YA book. But I'm into that! It has no smut in it though, which is proof that you don't need sex scenes or objectification to make fiction dark and mature. Lira and Elian both have great agency in this novel; their motivations are so believable that not once did I feel bored. They are so fascinating as characters, and their dynamic is just so good.

Which brings me to the enemies to lovers part. I will repeat: this novel is enemies to lovers done perfectly.

Their first meeting involves trying to kill each other? Check. Unwilling team-up? Check. Constant exchanges of witty banter and death threats? Check. Surprising themselves when they actually save each other's lives? Check. Slowly falling for each other and knowing that it's impossible? Check. Extreme consequences and stakes pressuring each side to not fall in love, but they do anyway? Check. Love eventually wins? Check.

And just in case you're wondering: yes, the romance is a significant part of the novel and their character development, but it's not all there is. If anything, the romance teaches them to be better people. Once Lira learns to accept that she isn't a monster, that she can and does love (loves Elian, loves her cousin), she grows as a person and turns good. Once Elian accepts that he can love a siren, a monster, his narrow worldview is changed and he also becomes more responsible and better as a person. And this is what a good, character-driven romance looks like.

To Kill a Kingdom is a slow burn, and they don't get together until the end of the novel. (It's very plot heavy, so don't worry, there's a lot to enjoy as you read through) But I think this slow burn is what makes their romance doubly believable. They don't fall in love at first sight. They don't throw away their motivations or principles the moment they meet each other. But they are forced to work together, and so they grow together, and learn to trust each other. It's a very organic shift in dynamic, and even Elian and Lira are shocked at themselves for how much they've changed. But it makes sense considering all that they've gone through together.

TL;DR THIS NOVEL IS SO GOOD I HIGHLY RECOMMEND! You'll enjoy this even if you aren't into romance because it's so much more than that too.

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  1. I think I already mentioned it before, but I adore your quick categories at the beginning of your reviews and their rating, they're always so much fun to read!
    I'm so happy you loved this book so much! I read it a little while ago and also really liked it, I thought that the hate-to-love romance was SO well done as well and all of their interactions through the story were AMAZING. I loved how they each grew individually before getting together and I just loved them ahhh. :)
    Lovely review :)

    1. Yes, I agree!! The romance was so believable and perfect!

      And I'm glad that you enjoy the quick categories. Summarizing book feelings can be hard :)) Thank you for commenting!