Book reviews

To kill a kingdom | a Little Mermaid retelling

Hello, hello!

A dark, twisted retelling of The little Mermaid? Sign me up, please!

Photo by Joanna Nix on Unsplash

Do you remember when you were little and you’d be reading a story wide-eyed, mouth open, heart beating fast, all caught up in the action? Well, Alexandra Christo made me feel like I was 5 again with this amazingly dark retelling of The little mermaid.

The little mermaid I grew up with

When I was young, we didn’t have Ariel on the TV. I grew up with Saban’s Little Mermaid called Marina, green tailed and blonde hair. It took me a very long while to get used to Disney’s Ariel. However, no matter which version I would watch and later read, I always loved them all. Even now, as an adult, The little mermaid and Peter Pan are my favorite stories.

What did Alexandra Christo do with this tale?

“Technically, I’m a murderer, but I like to think that’s one of my better qualities.” 

EliaN aka the prince, To Kill a kingdom by alexandra christo

“You are a little heartless today, aren’t you?”
“Never,” I say. “There are seventeen under my bed.” 

Lira aka the siren, to kill a kingdom by alexandra christo

Well, she took it, she shaped it, she got creative and she made a whole new tale, one that captures your attention by page one. Let’s get to the review for more!

Goodreads’ synopsis:

Actually, I don’t want to give it to you because it feels a bit spoilery. If you want to read it, you can find it right here. All you should know is that it is based, as I said in the title, on The little mermaid and it kinda follows the main key points. To introduce the main characters, there are Lira, the siren, and Elian, the prince.

The Good

  • story and concept. Wow. Just wow. I mean… Alexandra managed to take a very well known childhood tale and she made it hers. This is very hard to do without ruining the whole idea of the original tale: you must stay close enough that it is recognizable but far enough that you don’t copy it. I feel like this book is doing perfectly that.
  • style. This is a dark story. A very dark story. If you aren’t convinced, check again the quotes. There is murder, hate, prejudice, war talk, there are fights – a lot of fights- and quite a bit of gore. I loved it!
  • plot. This was great! I mean it had twists and turns but they were never overdone, it had action, it had things happening on and off page, it was a page turner.
  • characters. I loved the main characters. I simply loved them. They had personalities, they were complex, they had to face fears and even their own lives and their ways of thinking. What shocked me most about this book was how much I felt with the characters. I laughed, I cried – mom called me while I was bawling.. try explaining your mom that no, nothing bad happened, well, at least not in this world, when you can barely talk.
  • world building. Complex universe, composed by land and underwater kingdoms. I understood their histories, the way they worked, the reasons between their collaborations or hatred. I got to see and understand the setting of the book which was great!
  • dialogue. Smart, natural, never forced and honest. I am abusing the word “love”. I loved it.
  • relationships. From the title you could tell that the siren was going to fall for the prince and the other way around. Trust me, you have no idea what they go through before that! All you need to know is that this IS NOT insta-love, insta-attraction or insta anything. Well, insta something but not along those lines :))
  • writing. When was the last time when you cried at the scenes you were supposed to cry, laugh at the scenes where you were supposed to laugh, be scared and anxious when you were supposed to be anxious? Well, if you read this book, that will be one of those times.

The Bad

  • character development: this is MINOR and to avoid the spoilers I must be very vague about this but hopefully you will get the idea: there is a character who transitions to a certain way of being to another a bit too easily from my pov. I would have thought it would take a lot more to change them and I would have liked to see a bit more struggle but nonetheless, this is like “with or without cherry on top?”. Sure, the cherry is yumm, but it’s decorum, it can’t save a wreck of a cake. This cake here needs no saving 😛
  • it doesn’t have a sequel


Would I recommend this? Yes!! Absolutely yes! I would recommend this to girls, guys, young adults and adults. Its characters and style are just so different than anything I am used to reading when it comes to this genre that I would recommend this to anyone interested in trying a dark version of The little mermaid.

Thank you

To Asha for recommending this book in my July TBR post 🙂 I owe reading this book to you and I am so happy!

Featured image : Photo by Jean Sabeth on Unsplash

20 thoughts on “To kill a kingdom | a Little Mermaid retelling”

  1. What a glowing review! You know, your glowing reviews have a way of making me want to check it out, even though I had never intended on doing so before I read your review. 🙂 Still, I love the Ariel story so much that I would hesitate to read a darker version, but again, your review makes me quite curious!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The Lunar Chronicles were amazing too! At first the idea behind them seemed really stupid… A cyborg Cinderella? Seriously? But theeen I actually read them. I loved them!
        Something else I really enjoyed and it’s not a book, nor is it precisely a retelling, it’s the Penny Dreadful series. I loved how it brought together so many famous characters and it twisted everything a thousand times more.
        I did find some more retellings that I am very curious about. One is even set in Transylvania! I must read that one, it’s called Wildwood Dancing and I am very curious to see if it has anything to do with some fairies from the Romanian folklore.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just finished another book of dark retellings, The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo 🙂 I will be posting a review soon, but I can tell you I highly recommend it. It’s a collection of stories and while some are better than the others, the book as a whole is really good. Not too long either so it won’t be taking a lot of time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That sounds like a good one. I just checked out the sample on Amazon, based on your recommendation! 😉 He seems like a fantastic writer, just at first glance. Can’t wait for your review on this!


  2. Great post. I read the original ( I think it was the original, it was a darker story anyway) and loved it! Was never a fan of the little mermaid movie from years ago, but I’m looking forward to the remake just to see what it’s like.


    1. Thank you for stopping by!
      Yes, in the original she actually transforms into sea foam because she couldn’t kill the prince 🙂 I am also looking forward to the remake, I am really curious to see how it turns out


  3. What a positive review!
    I absolutely adore anything to do with mermaids still! They are such magical creatures and I just cannot (and will not) believe that these tales are based on truths (somewhere down the line!)
    I am putting this on my list RN, what the heck! I need to read it ASAP and I will use money to do so!
    – Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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