Title: Blood & Honey
Series: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: September 1st, 2020 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.
To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.
“The world didn’t end in a scream.
It ended in a gasp.
A single, startled exhalation.
And then— Nothing.
Nothing but silence.”
Lou and Reid are reunited after the terrible events at the Chateau, barely making it out alive, but they are hunted on all sides. On the run from their enemies, the revelations of the past few days haunt them. Reid is grappling with the guilt of having killed the Archbishop, not to mention the fact that he has the very magic he has spent his life hating. Lou, on the other hand, is determined to protect those she loves, and begins to lose herself to her magic each time she wields it. Magic demands balance and there is nothing Lou is not willing to sacrifice. They know Morgane will not sit idle, but the next time they face her, they cannot do so alone – they need allies, and fast. As they work their way back to Cesarine where the Archbishop’s funeral is due to be held, time is running out fast, and Morgane is toying with them, waiting to strike.
This review is three days later than I intended it to be, and that is largely because I wasn’t very happy with my initial draft and was also reconsidering my rating. I’ve now dropped it from a 4 to 3.5 stars. Here’s my issue: this book is seriously lacking in plot and the role of the various side quests is to set the stage for the finale. But said quests slowed down the pacing significantly, and many of them I didn’t find to be necessary. On the other hand, taking the focus away from the plot provides a lot of room for character development, which this book definitely took advantage of.
We get a much better insight into the nature of witches’ magic – which was one of the things I was hoping to see in this book – along with being introduced to several new characters, from the Dames Rouges and the werewolves as Lou and Reid attempt to put together a seemingly impossible alliance between old enemies. Reid’s past as a Chasseur doesn’t particularly help here either and brings up some old memories that still haunt him.
A large part of what I loved about Serpent and Dove was Lou and Reid’s dynamic, but this book significantly lacks the light-hearted moments that made it so much fun – this book tries, it really does, but the direction that Lou and Reid’s arcs have taken don’t allow for much of that. Lou and Reid begin to drift apart, each dealing with their own demons and the rising tension between them is evident from the beginning. The lack of communication was rather frustrating for me as a reader, but their attitude is completely understandable, as they’ve only just accepted each other when they go through a host of traumatic events, and I thought this book portrayed that very well, not only in the case of our main characters, but everyone else too. Coco, Ansel and Beau, though they have no POV, play crucial roles in this book and we get more backstory for them, particularly Coco.
After how beautifully the first book brought Lou and Reid together (that slow burn was to die for), this was certainly not what I expected of the sequel. I get that this is a realistic progression of events, but it was too drawn out for my taste. Their fights and miscommunications, not to mention the secrets they’re keeping, eventually becomes quite tiring. In the process of depicting their state of mind, and their ways of coping with the situation, the pace of the book seemed to slow down to a crawl for me to the point that I wasn’t even interested in the side quests anymore and wanted them to get to Cesarine when the action could begin at last. This could have been wrapped up in a duology, and I’m downright annoyed it has been extended to a third book. I am rather disappointed by the lack of any real substance in this book, and so much of it felt like filler. I think Serpent and Dove raised my expectations too high, but hopefully book 3 will make up for this. Also, Ansel deserved so much better.
The thing is, despite whatever complaints I have about this book, I won’t be able to help picking up the next book, not after that cliffhanger (even if I am rolling my eyes at it) – I just need to know what happens next! I’m pretty conflicted about this book, but overall, I have no doubt that fans of Serpent & Dove will enjoy this.
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series:
Book 1: Serpent & Dove