I loved the concept for this book. Siren princess (Lira) is punished by her power hungry Sea Queen mother for harboring a shred of “human” sentiment, and therefore, forced to seek the heart of a siren-hunting prince. Prince (Elian) casts about on the deep, in self-imposed exile from his own kingdom, vanquishing the world of the human killing sirens dominating the sea, and his only true home.
There were times, yes, many times when the narrative prose was lyrical and immersive and it drew me right in to this commercially quite popular story. Regrettably, that voice was inconsistent. In the main, I think this is due to imperfectly executed dual POV.
It’s hard to do dual POV well. Lira’s voice was by far the stronger of the two. Prince Elian had narrative responsibility for the “rag tag” crew’s assembly and much of their dialogue. And this brings up another opportunity missed. The crew should have been really interesting and richly voiced a la Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows. But it wasn’t even close. Crew member dialogue was fairly trite and lacked interest.
My greatest disappointment — many people won’t agree with me and so be it — was the romance. Lira and Elian hated each other, or were supposed to, but this relationship had no particular tension, considering what they were to each other. There should have been loads of tension. But there was so much inevitability about the direction of their romance. Yes, there was a long way to go, but you knew they would get there. There were no really interesting scenes. No solid repartee. I couldn’t figure out where the attraction really came from. Sure, Elian’s a likeable guy and he did fish her out of the ocean. But sworn enemies don’t fall over that easily. These do. Or so I felt.
I will say this, Alexandra Christo had a hard job. Lira was a difficult character to make a reader connect with, but she pulls this transition off, by hook or crook. There was a lot of tension between herself and The Sea Queen — much more than between herself and Elian. It was a convincing rivalry and I really wanted Lira to win. This was the most interesting part of the book. To Kill a Kingdom is Christo’s debut, and I will look out for better work to come.