Backlist Briefs – Mini Reviews for TO KILL A KINGDOM & WE WERE LIARS
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Retelling
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?
Alexandra Christo’s To Kill a Kingdom might be loosely based on The Little Mermaid, but in Christo’s version of the classic tale, our heroine is no Disney princess. Princess Lira is a siren who has been trained from a young age by her mother, the Sea Queen, to use her siren’s song to drown Princes and rip out their hearts. The Prince she sets her sights on when we first meet her is Elian, a prince who would much rather live his life as a pirate rather than sit on a throne. Elian also wants to devote his life to killing sirens so that his people can be safe from their deadly songs. An unexpected incident throws Elian and Lira together and forces Lira to kill one of her own kind. Lira’s mother becomes enraged and strips Lira of all of her Siren’s powers, including her song, and casts her out of the kingdom. The only way Lira will be allowed to return is if she can figure out a way to kill Elian without powers. So she poses as a drowning woman and Elian rescues her and brings her aboard his ship. Lira becomes so intrigued by Elian that rather than kill him and return to her evil mother’s side, Lira begins devising an alternate plan that could make things better for both of their kingdoms. Can they trust each other? What will Elian do if he figures out who Lira really is?
I adored both Lira and Elian so much. They both just have so much depth to them, especially the more we see of each of their backstories. Christo does an incredible job of fleshing them both out and making them both equally sympathetic. I also adored that they were both so darn sassy! Seriously, the banter in this book gave me life! There’s definitely a slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers kind of vibe going on where they alternate between flirting and threatening to kill each other, and I was on board with all of it. In addition to these two fabulous main characters, I also thought Elian’s pirate crew was seriously the most lovable crew ever. Again, with them, there was even more witty, snarky banter to make my day but they also just displayed such incredible loyalty to Elian. They’re truly willing to die for him, and I just loved them for it. And lastly, I can’t forget to mention the Sea Queen, who between her numerous tentacles and just her overall heinous behavior, you will not be able to read about her without picturing Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid. And she is a glorious villain too!
If you’re in the mood for a dark fantasy that is filled with memorable and loveable characters, incredibly vivid worldbuilding that brings not only the deadly sea to life, but also kingdoms of frost and kingdoms of romance, then I definitely recommend giving To Kill a Kingdom a try. It is a book that lives up to, and actually exceeds, all of the hype that has surrounded it this year. 5 STARS
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Delacorte Press on May 13, 2014
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
A beautiful and distinguished family.A private island.A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.A revolution. An accident. A secret.Lies upon lies.True love.The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it.And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.
Lockhart’s We Were Liars is a tiny book that packs a big punch. It’s also a hard book to say much about because to say too much will spoil what is probably one of the most powerful plot twists I’ve ever read. It’s definitely one of those books that’s best to go into knowing as little as possible. What starts out as a book exploring summers on a private island quickly evolves into a mystery filled with suspense, twists and turns, and dotted with lots of clues along the way as to what has happened.
The story is narrated by Cadence Sinclair. The Sinclairs come from old money and have their own private island, which is where Cadence and her family, including her beloved cousins, Johnny and Mirren, and their good friend Gat, vacation every summer. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat, or “The Liars” as they call themselves, were inseparable every summer and the book opens with Cadence thinking back on some of their summers together. When she gets to the summer when she was fifteen, however, events take a darker, more suspenseful turn. Apparently sometime during that summer, Cadence was involved in some kind of accident and ended up with amnesia and violent headaches. She has been told that she dove into the water and hit her head on something, but even without her memories, she feels like people, even her fellow Liars, are keeping things from her and it’s very upsetting.
I don’t want to say anymore about the plot beyond that this is a book about friendship and how easily they can be torn apart. The writing in this book is so poetic and precise. There are no extra words, no fluff. Every word, every detail leads us closer and closer to what really happened the summer that Cadence was hurt. I picked this book up because the cover makes it look like it will be a light and fluffy summer read, but oh what a deceptive cover…We Were Liars is a painfully beautiful read with an ending that shredded my heart into little bits. 4 STARS.