To Kill a Kingdom – Book Review

To Kill A Kingdom

Author : Alexandra Cristo

Publisher : Bonnier Publishing

Pub Date: March 6th 2018

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in.

You can find my review in Goodreads page as well.

Book Blurb

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 unsavory 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 sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

My thoughts

If you love fantasy like I do, then what are you waiting for ? This book’s got it all – sirens, Sea Queen, Pirate Prince who also happens to be a siren killer, mermen and mermaids and royal families with secret treasures.

I really liked the writing – simple, whimsical and perfect. No difficult plot lines to follow, just straight to the point without beating the bush. It did get a tad slow in the middle of the book but there were bigger things to consider like no instant love and too-much-romance. No sir, it was just enough, with a little banter here and there and no funny business.

Characters

Lira is the anti-heroine, sass personified and is a ruthless killer. She is of royal blood and goes only after the hearts of Royal blood – young princes, who are promised to rule a kingdom only to have their life snatched away and the kingdoms doomed. Thus she earns her name – Prince’s Bane.  But let me remind you, she is the heroine after all, so has a tiny bit of humanity in her saved for her little cousin Kahlia, whose mother’s life Lira had to take. (Ruthless killer for you!!).

“Hearts are power, and if there’s one thing my kind craves more than the ocean, it’s power.”

She wants to succeed her mother the evil Sea Queen because of which she is bound to please the queen by going after Royal hearts. (Do check the blurb for more!)

Prince Elian – though he prefers to call himself a pirate captain, loves the sea and adventure and wants to take revenge for all the royal blood wasted. Together with his unusual crew and his mission to kill all sirens, he is a murderer himself. His character is of the noble guy who gives up everything for the sake of a better world.

There are numerous side characters too – Princess Yukiko, Madrid, Kye – and there’s a tiny background story for all of them.

The writing

As I already mentioned, the writing is easy to follow, no big tough names to remember, and goes with the flow. The descriptions of the various Kingdoms and the sea journey in itself is beautifully written. The action scene with a pirate captain was the best written of all, better than the final war.

The only negative that I would say is, the little pit stops they make during the adventure were a bit dragging. Some might have found that zero tension between the two main characters was a little on the downside, but I felt that this was okay because these two were enemies and any sappy romance would have just spoiled the plot.

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All in all, I loved the easy writing and its a good fantasy not to be missed.

4.5 stars out of 5

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The Bear and The Nightingale – Book Review

Author : Katherine Arden

Publisher : Del Ray (Penguin Random House)

Pub Date: January 2017

Source : Own copy

Get the book from Amazon.in.

You can find my review in Goodreads page as well.

Book Blurb

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind–she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to 25493853her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed–this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales..

My Thoughts:

This was truly enchanting and beautiful. I loved the book and I’m glad to have read it at least a year after it was first published.

The book begins with Dunya, the nurse of Pyotr Vladimirovich and Marina’s kids, narrating a story about the Winter-King, Karachun also known as Frost or Morozko, the demon the winter. She tells them about his kindness and cruelty and the story of how he rewards a girl for her courage and punishes another for her greediness. That’s the first introduction we get to have of the mysterious, mythological Winter King.

The book is full of Russian and Slavic mythological creatures and this is the first time I’ve read about them. I googled most of them just to have an idea because when it comes to picturing the book’s characters, especially in fantasy, I find it hard. So Google to the rescue.

If the domovoi wasn’t real, then what about the others? The vodianoy in the river, the twig-man in the trees? The Rusalka, the polevik, the dvorovoi? Had she imagined them all?

I loved how spirited and determined Vasya was portrayed throughout the book. Never yielding, never the one to give up but at the same time kind enough to animals and household magical creatures and ofcourse, a strong protective feeling towards her family, even to the ones who hated her. As a matter of fact, so were her siblings, Alyoshka and Irina and the father Pyotr himself. I definitely hated the Priest – Konstantin and his religious fanaticism.

I loved how the story moved easily and beautifully. The writing was nearly perfect, that you can almost feel the chills of winter with Katherine’s visually descriptive prose. Also loved how the author , in a not-so-subtle way points out how fear is instilled into people’s mind through religion. All of the nightmares listed in the book sort of creeped me out and I had to close the book at night and continue by day 😀

… he makes men afraid. He eats their fear, gorges himself, and sleeps until he hungers again. Disorder he loves above all..

Now, coming to the little disappointments in the book. Nearly 3/4 of the book later, the title characters come in and I was wondering whether Vasya was the Nightingale , maybe it was a metaphor. *still wondering*.  And there were few gaps as well which might be filled in the coming books but still made me wish to know more of Marina’s mother or the Winter King  or Sasha.

The book is the first in the Winter night series trilogy and I cant wait to dive into the second book ‘The Girl In the Tower’ which I will be getting in few weeks (Yayyy). I cant wait to read more about Morozko !

My rating 5 stars 🙂

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