Title: Serpent & Dove
Series: Serpent & Dove #1
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 3rd, 2019 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, HarperTeen, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
“‘Tis dangerous to meddle in the affairs of witches.
Forget your vengeance. Forget everything you’ve learned
about this world of shadow and magic. You are wildly
outmatched and woefully inadequate in the face of these women.”
Louise le Blanc is a witch who left her coven, living as a pickpocket in the city of Cesarine and hiding her magic in a city where witches are hunted and burned. Reid Diggory is a Chasseur, a witch-hunter, in service to the church and he lives by a single edict – to hunt down witches. When a robbery goes wrong, Lou and Reid cross paths, and through a series of completely unforeseen events, end up in an arranged marriage. Now living in the Chasseur’s Tower, Lou is in the heart of enemy territory. But it isn’t just the Chasseurs she has to hide from. The coven she fled two years ago is still searching for her, and being found out by either side means death for Lou.
What an amazing debut! To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with the synopsis for this book, but decided to give it a try since it was getting such good early feedback. Set in a French inspired kingdom, the world building was certainly well done, though a little more background on the nature of witches’ magic would have been nice. While it does take a while for the more fantastical parts of the story to begin, there was more than enough to keep the reader occupied until then – namely Lou and Reid.
I love that this book had alternating POVs, as it gave great insight into both characters’ arcs and how they change over the course of the story – very important as Serpent & Dove, despite the heavy romantic subplot, is primarily a character driven story. Lou was a very strong female lead and her interactions with Reid were hilarious, especially how easily scandalized he is by her antics. I found it fascinating that Reid, the fanatical witch hunter, is also so obsessively honourable and intrinsically good. Coco and Ansel were excellent side characters and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them in the sequel, along with Beau. I’m generally very picky when it comes to romance in fantasy, but this managed to hit every mark and surprisingly enough, was one of my favourite parts about this book. The best part though was the way Lou and Reid eventually learn to look past what they have been told all their lives and see that their world is not all black and white.
The one thing I wasn’t very satisfied with was all the big reveals at the end. The build up to the climax was good, but everything following the revelation of the archbishop’s secret was pretty predictable and despite it being the most exciting part of the story, the final chapters seemed to drag out. Also, I’m not sure this needed to be a series. I have no idea what to expect in the sequel, but from the story so far, I feel that Serpent & Dove could have been a standalone, if a slightly longer one.
Overall, this was an entertaining and engrossing read right from page one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly recommended for YA fantasy romance lovers.
Serpent & Dove releases on September 3rd, 2019.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!