I received a copy from Netgalley.
I honestly don't quite know what to make of this book. Initially I was absolutely blown away with it, I have a weakness for mermaid themed stories and anti-heroines. Don't recall seeing the two combined before. Even better when it twigged this was dark Little Mermaid retelling.
I loved Lira right from the start - not a mermaid, but a siren. Deadly, fascinating and a total unapologetic bad ass. What's not to love? Known as The Prince's Bane Lira uses her siren gifts to lure unsuspecting Princes on ships to their death - where she rips out and collects their hearts. Her mother is the ruthless and unforgiving Sea Queen. The Sea Queen is a cold nightmare and nothing Lira ever does is good enough, no matter what.
Though despite her front of emotionless bad-assery, Lira has one weakness. Her beloved cousin Kahlia. Which comes in to play several times early on in the novel in Lira's battles with her awful mother. All Lira strives for is to be good enough to be named her mother's Heir. So far...not happening. Despite all the drama and attitude, there's an impression given that there's a lot more to Lira under the surface.
On the other hand, we have Elian, a Prince who has no interest in being a prince, he's an infamous siren hunter/pirate who would rather sail round the oceans with his crew ridding his world of the siren threat. After his first encounter with Lira, something of a disaster for both...it's completely obvious where the romance is going. Problem for me was on reflection, I really just don't like Elian at all. I found him flat and annoying. One thing I really liked was Elian's crew, tie deep camaraderie and friendship, their banter and absolute loyalty.
Elian learns of a mysterious crystal that will give him the power to rid the sea of the Sea Queen, there's a prophecy/curse to defeat. Problem is - the crystal is damn near impossible to find. Lira finds her path crossing with Elian, and when she finds out about the crystal, she wants it for her own purposes. They rub each other the wrong way - they are antagonistic as hell and bitching at each other for the first moment they meet. Lira is not happy finding herself with legs surrounded by humans. Who are naturally very suspicious of her - she has retained a few of her Siren talents - and uses them to her own advantage.
It's still obvious where the romance is going, but its so so slow while Elian and Lira figure each other out. Their characters both develop as the plot does, the search for the crystal and the means to find it. There's deals to be made with dangerous kingdoms, several unseemly and villainous characters come in with a role to play. There's twists and turns.
The world building is fascinating and very well written. The problem I found was after half way through I was getting more and more bored and it was taking longer and longer to get around to finishing it.
I'm not sure what to make of the end either. It concludes pretty well, though before then it got a bit messy in my opinion. I liked it, and would definitely read something by this author again, but I'm not as blown away by this book as I initially thought I was.
Thank you to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for approving my request to view the title.