Serpent & Dove Book Review
Fridays are dedicated to goddesses such as Freya and Aphrodite, meant to celebrate beauty, pleasure, and love. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin ticks all of these boxes. It's a beautiful book, an amazing love story, and an absolute pleasure to read. I read over half of it in one sitting and had to force myself to stop because I was falling asleep. It's THAT good.
Because Jordan has yet to read this one, and I don't want to ruin anything for her, we'll be keeping it spoiler-free today. Except for this one: there is a sex scene, so if you're shopping around for a younger reader, keep that in mind. With that said, let's dig in!
Genre: YA Fantasy
Category: Epic Read
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Rating: 5/5 Stars
Spotify: Check out the author's playlist for the book here!
As her debut novel and first in a trilogy, Mahurin knocked it out of the park with Serpent & Dove. First off, how awesome is this cover? I also like that each chapter is named rather than simply numbered, and swaps between both main characters' points of view. It adds a little something extra to the book and acts as a teaser for each chapter, taunting and making you use that old phrase, "Just one more chapter."
Using a French setting and Pagan-inspired lore, Mahurin confronts the Church and their treatment of powerful women in this fictional take on the famous witch hunts that have plagued history. While the plot did sound intriguing, what really sold me on starting this were the characters: a cinnamon-loving brunette witch married to a blue-eyed ginger? I mean . . .
Once I started reading, I was immediately captivated by Lou, dying for another nugget about her past, waiting to see how the truth would inevitably catch up to her, and potentially falling for a new OTP. The story takes place in December, the same time I was reading it; add in the snowy environment and festive atmosphere Mahurin created, and Serpent & Dove makes for a great holiday read. This book has all my favorite things:
strong female characters
horrifyingly dark villains
great character growth
heartbreakingly beautiful friendships
morally grey characters who struggle with right and wrong
modern issues tackled in an epic setting
slow burn romance
THOU SHALT NOT SUFFER A WITCH TO LIVE
This is the main principle the Archbishop and his army of Chasseurs live by, and the reason it is dangerous to be a woman in Belterra. But when Louise Le Blanc—a Dame Blanche, or White Lady—flees her coven and swears off magic, she seeks to disappear within the capitol city of Cesarine.
For two years, she manages to do just that: evading her enemies, living on the streets, stealing what she can. But after a close-call during a heist, Lou literally stumbles into a marriage-of-convenience with the Captain of the Chasseurs in order to salvage his reputation and keep herself out of prison. While it offers temporary protection, Lou knows she's playing with fire—figuratively and literally.
There was only one way such a story could end—a stake and a match.
Slow-burn romancers and enemies-to-lovers fans are sure to love this pair, especially if you're a fan of Matthias and Nina from the Six of Crows duology. Lou is a gorgeous, hilarious, loud, foul-mouthed witch; Reid a stalwart, somewhat stiff, loyal-to-a-fault holy soldier. It's everything we loved about the Drüskelle/Heartrender duo and more.
Lou and Reid also remind one of Kazej with Reid's faith and the way Lou teases him about it, their heartbreaking family histories, and the nasty scar Lou is left with to remind her of her tragic past—and drive her toward her goal.
Aside from his rigid views on witches at the beginning of the book, Reid is a good, gentle man. Though he never wanted to marry her, and Lou drives him up the wall by wearing pants, cursing, and absolutely refusing to behave like a woman, Reid resolves to be a good husband before they're even wed.
“If this woman is to be my wife,” he said, swallowing hard, “you will not touch her again.”
Reid is smart, and he can tell Lou has been hurt in the past. He makes it clear to her that he will ensure she doesn't suffer at anyone's hands again. Though he can be a prig at times, his inherit goodness and the effort he goes to—though the Archbishop has made it clear Reid could simply lock her away and let her be forgotten—make him automatically loveable.
"I suppose that means you'll honor and protect me, then? If we're adhering to the dusty old roles of your patriarchy?"
I shortened my pace to match hers. "Yes."
She clapped her hands together. "Excellent. At least this will be entertaining. I have many enemies.”
It isn't long before those enemies are closing in from all sides: local street thugs with a grudge, shadows of the past, and religious fanatics within the Church who all want one thing—her blood. All the while, what started as a sham of a marriage turns into something more as the two live together and begin longing to know the other. But can Lou trust Reid to keep his oath to protect her when he's already sworn an oath to eradicate her kind?
You'll just have to read it for yourself to find out! Get a copy here, or at your local bookstore (support small businesses!). You won't regret it, trust me. I plan to start the sequel immediately, like as soon as I finish writing this.