Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin – Serpent & Dove #1 – HarperTeen – Published 3 September 2019
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.
Serpent & Dove is an evocative fantasy, with witches and the clergymen that hunt them, one girl torn between two worlds, determined to survive, and very steamy romance.
Lou is a witch. Having left her coven, her magic is something she keeps hidden from most people to avoid the stake and the Chasseurs who hunt witches. But Lou also has another secret, one that makes her do dangerous things. When she and her friend and fellow witch, Coco, attempt to steal a magical ring, she unwittingly puts herself in the crosshairs of Chasseur Reid Diggory. Neither she nor Reid could ever work together, but their paths are irrevocable tied when they are forced into an arranged marriage. As the Chasseurs continue their hunts and the witches grow more bold in their attacks, Lou must keep her identity hidden or risk certain death – from both sides.
It took me a little while to get immersed in the story. I put the book down a few times in the first quarter but by the halfway mark I was hooked. Actually, it was more like the first third – I just thought I was at the halfway mark and was surprised I was only a third into the story when so much had already happened – what more could the story bring? Answer: lots. So many twists and turns I just didn’t see coming, and connections that came out of nowhere. This book is action-packed, lots of fighting scenes, endless battles of both wit and stubbornness, epic moments, big reveals, and even a few sweet moments, oh and did I mention steamy romance.
Romance is a key part of Serpent & Dove. Reid and Lou are thrown together, forced to wed and are hiding so many secrets from each other. I felt sorry for Reid sometimes, as Lou endlessly drives him crazy and then the other times I just enjoyed her snark, humour and crude teasing. She and Reid have such a strong chemistry, even when they are fighting, and theirs is a fantastic enemies to lovers storyline. They also share a very strong sexual tension that proves very combustible. I recommend this book for mature readers, due to both detailed sexual content and violence.
In a world that is both archaic and governed by religion, Serpent & Dove feels very modern. While the two shouldn’t mix, Lou’s modern sayings and attitude somehow fits the old-world setting. There is also strong representation of diverse characters.
Surprising, evocative and a whole heap of fun, Serpent & Dove is sure to delight and tantalise mature YA readers (and the adults who enjoy YA fiction). The first book in a two book series, the ending of Serpent & Dove will leave readers eager to continue Reid and Lou’s story.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Witches, witchcraft, church, witch burnings, magic, marriage, romance, friendship, mother-daughter relationships, relationships, vengeance.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 (publisher recommended)/ 16 (personal opinion) and up.
Advisory: Frequent sexual references, references to prostitution, brothels and numerous sexual relationships. Detailed sex scene. Frequent crude references. Violence – injury, murder, beheading, burning at the stake, human sacrifices. Frequent coarse language, f*** (9), sh** (43), as***** (1), bit** (6), wh*** (7), pi** (8).
Published: 3 September 2019 by HarperTeen.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 528 pages.