Serpent and Dove Book Review


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Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

From Goodreads: Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

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. 

Recently, I’ve decided I need to spend some time going through my TBR list, finishing series and getting through the small mountain of books that I got in boxes. With the subscription box books mounting up, despite the really amazing reviews of them out there, I thought the time was ripe to pick out a few to read each month. The first of these reads happened to be Serpent and Dove. Again, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to this book, since the hype for it made it sound incredible, but unfortunately I think I just hit a slump and shelved a lot of interesting-sounding books I knew I probably wouldn’t get through.

I will say it took me a chapter or two to fully get into Serpent and Dove. Again, this was likely because I wasn’t feeling reading at all when I first opened the book, so I don’t think it’s fair to hold that against it. The pacing did feel a touch slow at this point, but again it’s hard for me to know for sure.

The characters are absolutely the best thing about this book. Hands down. There’s just so much development and nuance to them all and I felt like everyone always had great reasons for behaving the way they did, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with it. The characters are flawed, that’s pretty obvious, but there’s so much to them and I think that’s what truly hooked me into this book in the end. Louise is wild. She’s fierce and street smart and funny and loyal and she knows how to survive with her secrets. Reid is very different from her, and it was always clear when we switched POV. The voice difference was so clear that we didn’t actually need the name of the character at the top, which I think is nice. I mean, it helps to have it to glance at and know for sure, but I always appreciate when books have such starkly different voices that you don’t need to be told whose head you’re in. Reid is very prudish and uptight, but there’s still a lot to uncover under the surface. Serpent and Dove does an amazing, meticulous job of revealing each layer of the characters, piece by piece, until you feel like you’ve known them your whole life.

A quick shout out to one of my favourite characters, Ansel, who was just adorable and kind and is clearly the cinnamon roll of the group.

Personally, I am a big fan of hate to love romances. It’s my favourite romantic trope in YA. And this one works superbly well, because the two main characters are such opposites. At first glance, they don’t suit each other at all, and they have absolutely nothing in common while having vastly opposing world views. But again, Mahurin appears to be an expert at building on this foundation, crafting something so stunning and delectable that this book was impossible to put down once it got going. It also helped that the dialogue between the two characters was very charged and hilariously cutting at times. It felt raw and real and utterly mesmerising.

Now, on to the world building. The world building has a lot going for it. The first few chapters manage to be informative without bogging down the book with a load of infodumps and pointless, dragging backstory. I do feel like there could have been a touch more of it, and sometimes the magic doesn’t entirely make sense to me, or takes a quick re-read of a section to click, but that isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. I do think there were a lot of interesting things packed into the crafting of the world. The French influence was fun, and well woven into the settings, and I thought the way the world functioned, with witches and chasseurs and a load of messages about the gendered power dynamics was clever. And while, as I said, I still have a few questions about the magic system, I think that’s probably fair. After all, there’s sequel coming later this year, so there could always be some answers in there. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Plus, the magic was very atmospheric in Serpent and Dove. There were lots of moments when I felt a shiver run down my spine, and plenty of times when I found myself on the edge of my seat, waiting to discover what happened next, and being almost afraid to.

All in all, I thought Serpent and Dove was a brilliant read. I’d give it a full 10/10 stars. While there are some things I’m still waiting to figure out about the magic system, I thought the characters were unique and masterfully crafted, I thought the world was spectacular, and I thoroughly enjoyed the angsty rollercoaster of the hate to love romance.

Has anyone else read this book already or plans to? What do you all think of it? Let me know in the comment section down below ❤


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