To Kill a Kingdom has got to be one of my favorite Little Mermaid retellings so far! Imagine the Ariel we all know being a hard, sharp killer, with the sea witch Ursula as her mother instead of sweet King Triton. And substitute the lovely mermaids we know with deadly, bewitching and ferocious sirens. You get Alexandra Christo’s To Kill a Kingdom.
Since it’s a Little Mermaid retelling, we know the basic structure of the narrative: sea creature girl fall sin love with human prince. The original Hans Andersen story has a tragic ending with the mermaid dissolving into sea foam while Disney paints a happily ever after. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that To Kill a Kingdom will have you smiling instead of crying at the end!
Enemies to Lovers
The siren creatures are at war with the humans, with Lira, our siren princess being the most famous prince killers and prince slash pirate Elian being the most famous siren hunter. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an enemies to lovers carried out this convincingly before. There was no “they actually loved each other this whole time”, or Romeo and Juliet love at first sight between two enemy parties. Here it was real fear and hatred that our two main characters felt for the other. That changed to grudging respect, comradery, flirting, and then finally to love. I found this super satisfying and a lot of fun to follow.
Okay the one thing that seemed a bit odd to me was how magic played a deux ex machina role without much constraint in the worldbuilding. It’s literally oh this person can suddenly appear here and it’s because of magic (video game-esque, I must say).
All in all though, with just a little over 350 pages, To Kill a Kingdom wasn’t a long book. But the standalone had everything I was looking for: gory fairy tale retellings, fantasy world adventure, pirates, royalty, sirens, a great enemies to lovers relationship, and even a bit of politics on Elian’s part! I honestly wish it was a bit longer, but give me short, sweet, to the point any day over unfocused ramblings just length sake.
If you’re into pirate vibe books as much as I am, you might also like Daughter of the Pirate King duology.