Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
I have read quite a handful of fantasy books and they frequently involve vampires, werewolves, angels and Nephilim (fallen angels). Meanwhile, witches are usually on the sidelines and play minimal roles in the story. This breaks my heart a little because witches are fascinating—if not, they are my favorite fantasy race!
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
On sale September 3rd 2019
Synopsis: Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.Synopsis via Goodreads
Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.
Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.
The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.
And love makes fools of us all.
This is why I got so excited when I discovered Serpent and Dove. Mahurin takes witches front and center and created a spellbinding world of her own. I love the idea that Mahurin wrote this book on a saying “create the story that you want to read”. See, I usually visit an author’s social media to “get to know them” or know more about their books. In doing that, I found out that Mahurin wasn’t satisfied with the minor part of witches on a certain show and on other young adult books, and so, this inspired her to write her own story.
Decent, fast-paced plot. There’s always something (wicked) happening.
Mahurin’s writing style is fluid and accessible. The first few pages lured me in and the next thing I know, I got sucked into the story. It has a decent plot, but there are some parts that were a little bit predictable. Nonetheless, it didn’t really hurt the entire story. If you love action scenes, this book does not miss the mark, especially the fight scene in the Tower and of course, in the climax.
Protagonists who learn and grow from their mistakes.
The dynamic of the characters in this story is beyond my expectations. They are perfectly fleshed out—they’ve got motives, dreams, and fears. You feel for them! I enjoyed being inside Lou’s head. She reminds me of a female Will Herondale! She’s clever, brave and compassionate despite her tragic experiences in life. Her sardonic attitude that acts as a defense mechanism for all her vulnerabilities makes her feel more relatable. Reid, on the other hand, despite seeing things back and white (at first), you can’t help but root for him too. You can’t really blame the guy for believing what he thinks is right (or wrong) considering how he was raised as a child. I love his arc in this book! The way he internally battled with what’s right or wrong, how he loosened up a bit towards the end of the book and how he perceived things in a whole new light was remarkable.
The romance felt natural and not used as a plot device.
Having such polar opposite personalities, it was a delight to see Lou and Reid interact with each other. I reveled in their banter! But I also loved witnessing how they learn how to see past each other’s walls and, eventually, fall in love. The romance in this was the kind I like, slow-burning! It was so good!
Compelling side characters + Authentic villain.
There is so much character growth in this story and this is just the first book, you guys! This also goes for the side characters that are just as delightful to read. I love Cosette and her unmatched friendship with Lou, but Ansel really stands out for me. I didn’t expect to adore him this much, to be honest. I thought he’d be just another side character, but his growth in the story was satisfying. Also, one of the things, why I love this book, is because it’s got a convincing villain, Morgane. She’s so believable that I found myself more sympathetic with her predicament. I don’t want to spoil things, but when you read this book, you’ll get it why she’s doing the things she does. She’s perfect and I want to know more about her.
“Wicked are the ways of women”
The representation of witchcraft felt authentic as well. It was dark and complex. I love the religious aspects of it all. Although, the magic parts still felt a little scarce somehow, so I’m looking forward to exploring more of that specifically more on Dame Blanches and hopefully other covens. Plus, I also found the connection they have with the Chasseurs (witch hunters) as intriguing.
Overall, Serpent and Dove is my best read this year (so far). I couldn’t recommend it enough! From its morally gray characters, believable romance, to epic fight scenes, this is the impeccable read that every fantasy lovers are looking for, young adult and adult readers alike.
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.