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Book Review: Serpent & Dove

by | May 8, 2023 | Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fantasy, Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 stars
Age Rating: 14+

I recently explored Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin, and I’m excited to share my thoughts and experiences with you all. This fantasy novel is full of love, sacrifice, power, and politics, making it a really enjoyable read that grabbed my attention from the start.

In this Serpent & Dove review, we’ll dive deep into this book, looking at everything from its thrilling plot and memorable characters to its captivating writing style and pacing. And of course, we’ll discover the special elements that make this novel stand out from other fantasy books.

Tropes in this Book

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Marriage of convenience
  • Only one bed
  • Slow burn

Synopsis of Serpent & Dove

Serpent & Dove takes place in a world where witches are hunted by the Church and burned at the stake, and it tells the unlikely love story between a daring witch and a devoted witch hunter.

The story follows a witch named Lou and a Chasseur (witch-hunter) named Reid in a dual-perspective narrative. Louise le Blanc fled her coven and now hides in the city of Cesarine, forsaking magic and living as a thief. There, she meets Reid Diggory, who lived his life sworn to the church and hunts witches like Lou. In an unexpected twist, their paths collide, leading to a forced marriage that brings Lou under the roof of those who could be her protectors or executioners.

Set in a French-inspired fantasy realm, the heart of the story is the enemies-to-lovers relationship between Lou and Reid. While Lou is fierce, resourceful, and unapologetically bold, Reid is loyal, disciplined, and deeply committed to the Church. As they learn to navigate their new life together, the pair must confront their preconceptions, question the beliefs they were raised on, and uncover hidden truths about themselves and the world they live in.

Picture of Serpent & Dove Book

My Review

Shelby Mahurin skillfully combines themes and symbols, including love, sacrifice, magic, power, religion, and politics. As I read, I was completely absorbed into the world of Lou, Reid, and the city of Cesarine, with its rich history and vivid descriptions.

At the heart of Serpent & Dove, the story explores the many sides of love and sacrifice. Lou and Reid’s love story goes against what society expects, showing the strength of their commitment to each other and the lengths they’re willing to go to for love. Their relationship develops gradually, and I was pleasantly surprised by how the author avoided the cliché of “insta-love.” The slow-burn romance between the bold, humorous Lou and the proper, devoted Reid is a highlight of the story. As they learn from each other, their walls start to come down, and they become more open to each other’s beliefs and values.

Mahurin’s portrayal of magic and power in the novel is impressive, as it serves as a metaphor for control and resistance. While reading, I found myself drawn into the complexities of power dynamics, both personally and within society, showing how magic can be used for both good and evil, as well as a symbol of defiance and empowerment.

The nonlinear narrative structure, which switches between Lou and Reid’s perspectives, adds depth to the story and helps readers understand their motivations and emotions. The pacing is perfectly balanced, with moments of thrilling action, sweet romance, and quiet reflection.

Serpent & Dove is an exciting novel filled with suspense and plot twists that kept me on the edge of my seat. Mahurin expertly builds tension and cleverly executes plot twists that are both surprising and logical. As I followed Lou and Reid’s journey, I appreciated how their relationship challenged traditional gender roles and societal norms, making their love story even more compelling. Mahurin’s writing style is also notable for its humor, heart, and beautiful language.

The Church’s persecution of witches in Serpent & Dove reminds me of our world’s real, violent history. Adding the fantasy element of witches, who are complex and well-rounded characters with their own goals and motivations, makes the story even more engaging.

Final Thoughts

Mahurin’s exploration of power, prejudice, and the dangers of extremism mirrors many issues we face in society today, making the book not only fun to read but also thought-provoking. The depth and complexity of the story, along with relatable characters and an emotional journey, make Serpent & Dove a memorable read that will resonate with many readers.

If you found this review helpful, you can check out the book at Bookshop.org here and support local bookstores along the way!