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 unsavoury 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 siren kind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?
Stand alone or series: Standalone
How did I get this book: Arc from Netgalley
You guys know that over here at Novel Darlings, we’re crazy mermaid people, right? Just so crazy that we buy things with mermaids on them, adore The Little Mermaid a bit too much and read every mermaid YA book we can get our sticky little fingers on.
Oh, and we’re writing our own mermaid book. That too.
So when I was browsing Netgalley back in January or so and I saw the cover of To Kill a Kingdom, I knew I had to read it. HAD TO. IT WAS A BURNING NEED.
Of course, the description only fueled that fire. Murderous sirens stealing hearts? Yeah, if you hadn’t noticed that’s exactly our thing.
But as it goes I read this in two seconds flat the minute I got it from NetGalley about a month ago. And I’m writing the review now. At the start of March. I know February is a short month but still. I suck so badly here.
Lira is a siren princess. Beautiful, graceful and totally deadly. She keeps hearts, one for each year of her life. This is the way of the sirens, luring men down with their song and then ripping their hearts from their chests. The entire race, cruel as they are lovely.
And ruling them all is Lira’s mother, the Sea Queen. The queen is a terrifying ruler with a body full of tentacles and a heart as cold as ice.
And the thing is that while you see Lira trying to be as heartless as her mother, you can tell that she just quite…isn’t?
Lira is a very complex character. By rights, we should hate her. She’s feared across the land as the Princes’ Bane, the siren who lures princes to their deaths for their hearts. It’s only fitting for a princess of the sea to have the best hearts, after all. She is dismissive, proud and totally sure that she is better than everyone else. One day she will be queen and she doesn’t forget it.
But there’s always these little glimpses of a better person shining through. It becomes clear early on that she loves her cousin and carries immense regrets over events of the past. As Lira goes on her (reluctant) adventure, she grows and sees that sirens being cold to one another is not the best way to live. She sees how the prince and his crew care for and protect each other. These kind of character arcs are my favourite if done well.
Elian, on the other hand, is a prince and he wishes he were anything but. He wants to roam the seas with his crew, taking jobs and ridding the world of sirens that haunt the waters, taking hearts. His ultimate prize is the Princes Bane, a red-haired murderess that has so far eluded him.
He’s more than a bit surprised when a naked girl turns up in the middle of a frigid ocean. Fairly justified as that’s probably one of the last places you’d expect to find someone. She repays them for saving her life by…not being too grateful about it. She hisses, spits and bites. But Elian doesn’t just chuck her back (although he’d be justified in doing so. C’mon, Lira, that’s literally your only hope in the middle of a frigid ocean! Maybe don’t bite people?)
Lira and Elian’s relationship is complicated and neither is really sure how much they can trust the other. It doesn’t help that they keep secrets from one another about who they are and their agendas.
It’s very strange for Lira to experience the feeling of family and camaraderie that Elian’s crew has. They all adore their captain and loyalty is a strange thing to Lira when sirens are only supposed to be out for themselves. But it slowly chips away at her walls as they go on a quest to end the sirens’ control of the oceans forever.
I could talk about this book a whole lot more but I think I’ll keep quiet and let you guys read it for yourselves. As much as I love it, I’m glad it’s a standalone because it’s perfect as one compact story and we need more great standalones in the world.
Lira is a great character and she grows as a character while retaining who she is. She might learn that her mother’s way is wrong and take steps to change how sirens live in the world but she still retains her fire and sarcasm. She’s cunning and clever and ultimately a princess and she uses all these things to get what she wants. And I actually love her relationship with Elian, how they slowly come to trust and care for each other. These kind of tumultuous relationships aren’t easy to write and sometimes they don’t end up convincing at all.
One final note regarding the big bad, Lira’s truly terrifying mother. The Sea Queen is destructive, manipulative and downright cruel. Her abuse of Lira is horrifying and you can see how it completely destroys Lira. It’s no wonder that Lira dreams of the day when her mother has 60 hearts and has to step down, as per siren tradition, leaving Lira to be queen. She reverts from this proud, powerful princess to a frightened child in front of her evil mother. You really feel for Lira in those moments.
I loved this book so much that I actually preordered it. I hardly ever preorder things but as I already knew that I love this book and had to have it, it was an automatic add to my shelf.
And for me, much like getting the hardback version, it’s high praise.
If you’re read it, please let me know! I’d love to talk about it more. If you haven’t read it yet, do you plan to once it releases? I LITERALLY CANNOT WAIT UNTIL MINE ARRIVES.