Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin blew my mind away and to think that it was just another fantasy novel and not reading it even though I had the book since last November! Oh dear Lord!
You know how much I love reading mushy romances. I’m not afraid to confess it. It’s my go-to whenever I feel blue or is faced with a reading slump. Something light and breezy always does the trick and hence Serpent & Dove wasn’t really my pick to get out of the slump. But I still gave it a go and I’m glad I did.
Read on to know why.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin- Book Review
Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent & Dove is set in 17th century France, in the land of Belterra where there are witches and witch hunters. Lead by the Archbishop, the witch hunters or Chasseurs hunt down witches only to give them the ultimate punishment – burn them at the stake.
“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
Louise le Blanc belongs to the witch coven of Dames Blanche whose magic demands balance of nature. However, she runs away from her coven to live the life of a thief. This was a choice she made else it meant she had to die for the sake of her coven. But life is hard in the city of Cesarine where she has to learn to suppress her magical powers.
“I was no one’s sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”
Lou however, has an aid- her friend Coco, who belongs to the coven Dame Rouge whose magic is in their blood. Though they are rivals, Lou and Coco are more like sisters. Their friendship and sisterhood are one of the strongest elements in the book.
“If she was destined to burn in Hell, I would burn with her.”
Things take a different turn when Lou ends up in a compromising position with the Captain of Chasseurs – Reid Diggory, and she has to choose between going to prison for the rest of her life or be married to Reid. She chooses the latter and becomes Madam Diggory.
Reid is a true blue witch hunter who has been taught to hate witches all his life. He lives a life of honor and holds their motto and values over anything else.
Oh, this book is everything!
I loved the chemistry between Reid and Lou – their banter was off the charts and super entertaining. Reid is that tall, handsome man who is also caring and good. Basically, swoon-worthy! Whereas Lou is just the opposite – sassy, spunky, daring, and foul-mouthed, who knows how to have some fun in life. Both drive each other mad but in the end, they fall head over heels in love with each other.
“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.”
The emotional turmoil (Remember, witch and witch hunter?) and complexities are portrayed well and the romance? Ah, well! Drool! Forbidden love is truly captivating.
P.S: There is an explicit sex scene, be forewarned.
“Such a love was not something of just the heart and mind. It wasn’t something to be felt and eventually forgotten, to be touched without it in return touching you. No . . . this love was something else. Something irrevocable. It was something of the soul.”
Shelby Mahurin also covers the stigma of being a “proper lady” in the book- cutting across ridiculous rules and conventional norms that define womanhood. That being a wife meant she should obey her husband at all times and that being a woman meant she cannot drink a lot. Who creates these rules anyway? She has done an excellent job calling out these misogynistic ways of treating a woman.
“She revelled in their disapproval.”
There aren’t many side characters and as the story moves forward, many secrets are revealed. Coco and Ansel have my heart. The plot twists and character arcs grow gradually and that’s why this book is just not any other romance novel.
The best part about the book (well, there are many more things that I loved about this book if you didn’t understand that already) is that the magic system or the magical world is comprehensible. It isn’t complicated, unlike many other fantasy novels.
All in all, go for it if you like:
- enemies to lovers
- witch and witch hunter romance
- forbidden love
- an intricate but comprehensive magical system
- morally grey characters
- strong female friendship
- women empowerment
Oh, I can’t wait for its sequel – Blood & Honey.
5 Paws on 5 (It is kinda a 4.8 because the plot is nothing we haven’t seen before. But I loved the book so much that I’m on the verge of obsession if you know what I mean!)
Here’s the linky for July #ReadingWithMuffy. The prompt for August is Celebrating Indian Books and Authors and we also have a separate giveaway + reading challenge for it. Check out the prompts and rules for #CelebratingIndianBooks Readathon here.
Let the reviews pour in. I can’t wait to see your picks.
I hope you are staying home, staying safe. Let’s pray for this life-threatening disease to be eradicated from the world soon.
Lots of love and good vibes.