By: Fayetta Doll, Staff Reporter
This week’s book review will be on To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo. This book left me conflicted but not because it was a concept I loved and an execution I hated or even because the prose was wonderful and the plot was lackluster. No, no, this book had an amazing plot and amazing prose…well, more or less.
The characters annoyed me to hell and back. They kept talking about being villainous and evil and murderous and infamous, but it was a classic case of telling and not showing. I didn’t truly believe any of the character traits that the characters said they had until around page 158. That—that—was when I started to really enjoy the book. Up until that point the characters were annoying, but I kept reading because I had such high hopes due to the rave reviews I was hearing. Needless to say, I was simultaneously disappointed and vitalized by the end of the book.
So, first let’s line out the reasons I was disappointed.
The book fell short for because it was pitched to me as a dark fantasy. Key word being dark. Let me warn you here and now, if you are a dark fantasy aficionado then you’ll know this is not dark fantasy. And you will be disappointed, as I was. It wasn’t bad fantasy. In fact, it was really good fantasy with a flushed-out world that I wanted to know more about (which was another reason I kept reading). But I was expecting something lush and dark, especially from the first line.
“I have a heart for every year I’ve been alive.”
Liiiiike. Girl. That’s something that leaves me dying to read more. The moment I read that line and heard it was dark fantasy, this book sailed to the top of my TBR (to be read) list. First of all, that line is badass. More badass than the character would like you to think she is. I’m not saying I don’t like Lira. In fact, I love her. It is a part of her character growth that she views herself as so incredibly murderous. I analyzed her character quite a bit but more on that later.
The second aspect that left me unsatisfied was the prose. It just… it was lush in some places and oh so very not in others. Also, the dialogue didn’t match up with the world. The world could have been so much more detailed and so much darker if it didn’t feel like it was trying so hard to be edgy with its foul language. The cursing just didn’t fit in with the dynamic. In books like Nevernightby Jay Kristoff, the cursing works. But in this it just felt out of place.
Now for what I loved.
Specifically, the romance and Elian’s narration and Lira. The main two characters were Lira and Elian, who – surprise, surprise – were paired together. But their romance was so good. I ate it up and I looked up fanart and fanfiction afterwards because it was just so delicious. Their glorious banter. Their transition from enemies to lovers. So well done. That is one of my favorite things and this book does it excellently. I can’t hype up this romance enough. It’s amazing.
Elian’s narration is what made me change my tune on page 158:
“Things were going smoothly. Or rather, they had screwed themselves into a giant mess, and I was getting closer to pressing out the wrinkles.”
One word: yes. Okay, no. Two words: yes, please. His narration was altogether hilarious once I got past the “I’m a badass murderer” act that he was pulling.
Lira. Lira. LIRA. Beautiful. She is the only exception, so far, to my “protagonists that act like they’re badass murderers are always annoying” rule. Because her acting like that had so much depth and purpose to her character stemming from how her mother was abusive and her own sirenism. Sirenism? Point being, she’s a siren.
Also: she’s amazing.
I give this book seven and a half out of ten flowers. I gave it five out of five stars on Goodreads, though. At the end of it and at the end of the day, this is a good book and I recommend it. Just don’t expect intense, genuine dark fantasy.