I wasn’t sure what to expect from Serpent & Dove, but I absolutely loved it! It has a wonderfully crafted enemies-to-lovers romance story, in addition to a witches-vs.-church-battle. With every chapter, you learn more and want to know more. I listened to the audiobook, and I liked the voices of the narrators, who are Saskia Maarleveld and Holter Graham. The female narrator did talk in a slight of whispery, or urgent tone a lot of the time, but it didn’t bother me.
Shelby Mahurin started as an indie author, whose work got picked up, and just released her second book, Blood & Honey (the sequel to Serpent & Dove). She grew up on a small farm in Indiana, and still lives there with her family and pets.
Genre: Fantasy Romance, New Adult | Publisher: HarperTeen
Lou is a witch, who ran away from her coven two years ago, and now lives in the city as a thief. Reid is a Chasseur, a soldier of the church tasked to find witches and see them burned on the stake. Tensions are escalating as the witches are planning something big to seize back their stolen homeland from the King and the church. In the midst of it all, Lou and Reid meet, and a twist of fate sees them forced to bond together in a very permanent way: marriage.
“There are some things that can’t be changed with words. Some things have to be seen. They have to be felt.”
The story was incredible, and I enjoyed every bit of it. There’s a lot of tension, the stakes keep getting greater, and the slow-building romance between Lou and Reid is tantalizing. Not once did any of the parts bore me. Serpent & Dove has continuing twists and turns where you least expect them, which keeps you on your toes when reading or listening. The ending was just perfect and raised some new questions that I hope will be answered in the sequel Blood & Honey. But most of the questions raised in Serpent & Dove get answered by the end, so it was still a satisfying conclusion.
If I were to state a theme for the story, it would be the question: can love help us overcome our differences? Or are we too set in our ways– too fixed on what we believe in, to bridge the gap? I think it’s a beautiful theme that’s very current in today’s world, where many people fight against each other based on different belief systems, especially when it comes to religion.
We have two main characters in the story: Lou and Reid. Lou has sworn magic to stay hidden from both her coven and from the Chasseurs. She has a good heart but does what is necessary to survive, which quite occasionally results in violence. She’s witty and uses that wit often as a defense mechanism. Reid is more of a stoic person and quite naïve in his worldview. He beliefs entirely what the Archbishop tells him, especially when it comes to witches. His views are not easily swayed. Still, he is kind, and when he promises to do something, he does it. He’s very loyal and cares about those close to him.
“I was no one’s sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”
The most notable side-characters are Coco and Ansel. Coco is Lou’s best friend, and also a witch, though from a different coven. She’s a real good friend, always sticking out for Lou. Ansel is part of the Chasseurs, but still in training. He looks up to Reid but is more open-minded and perceptive. Such a good-hearted kid; you can’t help but love him.
The Archbishop is quite an ass and a total hypocrite. He treats Reid like a son and favors him above the other Shaseurs. This naturally pisses off Reid’s best friend, Jean-Luc, who joined the church at the same time. He’s also quite and ass.
The world that Serpent & Dove takes place in, Cesarine, is based on a French city. A lot of the words used are French. There are a lot of details going on in the story, from the theatre building to the patisserie, and the different area’s in the city separated by class (which is also the case in Paris). The different kinds of magic are explained sufficiently as well, and we get some information about the covens, but I would’ve loved to know more. It wasn’t necessary for the story to make sense, though; I’m just a sucker for details about witches and covens.
In any case, we learn that one of the covens is the ‘Dame Blanche,’ whose magic is tied to nature. It’s the old ‘magic has a price’ convention. So if you want to do magic, you have to sacrifice something else in return, which can be seen as a pattern. Then there’s the ‘Dame Rouge’, who are blood witches. It might be evident that their magic comes from blood, and their blood is the price they pay for doing magic. I hope that Blood & Honey will feature even more covens and exciting details about the Dame Rouge and Dame Blanche.
“Wicked are the ways of women—and especially a witch. Their guile knows no bounds.”
Evaluating the writing while listening to the story is a bit tough, but as far as I can judge, the writing was good. There was a good balance between internal reflections, action, dialogue, and descriptions. There was no info dump of any kind that I noticed. What I loved about the writing was that it evoked all my senses. When Lou was in the patisserie, I could smell the sticky buns, and I could almost taste them. I thought it was clever that magic left a scent since non-magic users can’t see magic. This way, it was still possible to discern when magic was being used by others, even when it wasn’t visible. If that makes sense.
It’s safe to say that Serpent & Dove is a wonderfully written book that will please fans of magic, witches, and an excellent enemies-to-lovers romance. There’s a lot of suspense to keep you emerged in the story, and I love how we get to see two completely different viewpoints. Despite their significant differences in how they view the world, you still care about both Lou and Reid. There are many exciting details about the covens, the witches, and how magic works, along with interesting characters that are all well-developed. I’m psyched to continue with Blood & Honey to see what’s in store for our gang!