Top 5 Dark Sirens and Mermaids

March 7, 2018 | 4:00 PM

Top 5 Dark Sirens and Mermaids

By Alexandra Christo

I’ve always found stories about sirens and mermaids fascinating. I love the idea that below the ocean, right under our noses, an entire world exists, filled with creatures beyond our imagination. There are tons of stories devoted to them; some beautiful, some deadly, some both. When writing To Kill a Kingdom, they all helped to inspire the world I was building and led me to create my own dark siren story, filled with killer princesses and pirates, and an entire kingdom of creatures as wonderful as they are deadly.

So, without further ado, here are my top five dark sirens and mermaids!

1. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

This is such a dark tale, and the mermaid suffers a lot throughout the story. But even though she doesn’t get the prince in the end, she does get a chance to earn a soul, which inspired Lira’s journey about what it means to be human. Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaids also become sea-foam with they die—something I had to pay homage to. I thought it was a really sad thing for such powerful creatures to become nothingness. Which is what pushes Lira in To Kill a Kingdom to be as brutal as she can, so that she’ll be remembered long after she fades away.

2. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

“The most haunting time at which to see the mermaids is at the turn of the moon, when they utter strange wailing cries. The lagoon is very dangerous for mortals then.”

I’ve always loved J. M. Barrie’s mermaids. They’re only nice to Peter and pretty nasty to everyone else, even deliberately splashing people who get too close. It’s wonderfully petty! There’s this idea that at night they change into darker creatures, and I really liked the thought of them having two sides, which is similar to how Lira has a brutal persona of the Princes’ Bane amongst humans, but a more gentle side toward her cousin, whom she’s desperate to protect.

3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

"The merpeople had greyish skin and long, wild, dark green hair. Their eyes were yellow, as were their broken teeth, and they wore thick ropes of pebbles around their necks."

The mermaids from Harry Potter are not the typical beautiful creatures in most legends. I loved that they were so monstrous in appearance. While the sirens in To Kill a Kingdom are far more human-looking (but monstrous in nature), the mermaids are a lot more fish-like (but long to be human). It’s a great juxtaposition and allowed me to create tension within the sea kingdom, as these two races are very much at odds. And it made Lira’s connection to the flesh-eating merman that much more alarming!

4. The Sea Goddess Ceto from Greek Mythology

This is one of the most fascinating stories in Greek mythology. Ceto means “sea monster” and, together with her brother Phorcys, she’s said to have sired a legion of monstrous creatures. The goddess the sirens worship in To Kill a Kingdom is based on her, and it’s their goddess’s death which starts the war between sirens and humans!

5. Lorelei from German Folklore

Lorelei is a famous siren said to lure sailors to their deaths with her singing. The legend is inspired by a rock of the same name in Germany, which emits a strange humming. It led author Clemens Brentano to write about a woman who was betrayed by her lover and accused of bewitching men. She’s said to have fallen to her death on the rock, and it’s the echo of her voice that can be heard. Totally eerie!


Though it’s not out yet, I have to give an honorary mention to the new show Siren that’s coming out later this month. The trailers look so cool, and the mermaid seems just as deadly as Lira. I’m looking forward to adding another killer mermaid story to my list!

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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 and 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?

Start reading now.