{ Project } { ARC } { Review } Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin


“Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.”

I received an ARC of Serpent & Dove at BookExpo, this in no way impacts my review. However, my review is based on an unfinished and uncorrected copy, please note that the story and quotes may differ from the final book. I’ll do my best to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

The eighth book of my ’10 books in 3 weeks’ project

Read from August 6th to August 7th 2019

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can’t believe this book made it to my all-time favourite!

I just felt the most satisfying feeling ever. That feeling when you have high expectations for a book and it manages to surpass them. That feeling you experience in your whole body, the peacefulness, closing the last page with a satisfied smile even if it ends in a cliff-hanger, you’re feeling fulfilled as a reader (and also a pinch of desperation wanting the sequel). I know it’s rare but if you’ve already experienced it, you definitely know what I mean. Well, that’s what Serpent & Dove did for me. It’s a must-read and when it comes out next month, just read it, you’ll thank me.

Serpent & Dove takes place in the 17th Century French-inspired land of Belterra, in the city of Cesarinne, where the sanguinary war between Witches and Chasseurs (witch hunters) is raging. The Witches are hunted and burned at the stake by the Chasseurs, lead by the Archbishop, are particularly devout and follow God’s law and their number one rule is ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. Witches are easily recognizable because as soon as they use their magic there is a scent that ligers on their skin leading the Chasseurs straight to them. Most of them now hide in plain sight, walking between the crowds and suppressing their magic and true nature for their own safety but the few others use their magic in public trying to hurt the most people they can.

“They might’ve all been hypocrites, but I was the biggest of all.”

Lou fled her Coven two years ago and is now living on the street, surviving off whatever she could steal. She is careful, always on the lookout and she is willing to do whatever it takes in order to survive, including killing if she has to. She spends her time with her best friend Coco, another witch in hiding. After one of her burglaries went awry, Lou ends up being seen in a compromising position, implying sexual assault from Reid, the respected Captain of the Chasseurs, she is given the choice. Either go to prison for theft for the rest of her life or marry Reid to save his reputation as an honourable man. Seeing that this arrangement will potentially grant her a source of protection from the persons seeking to harm her, Lou accepts the marriage knowing full well the risks she is taking.

They are forced into cohabitation, but Reid doesn’t know that his new wife is actually a witch, his natural enemy. In fact, Reid and Lou couldn’t be more different. Lou is strong, independent, provocative, sassy and sarcastic, she also swears a lot. She doesn’t waste an occasion to embarrass him, torment him or to put him in his place. In other words, she takes pleasure in doing everything a proper lady shouldn’t do. On the other hand, Reid is the perfect gentleman; he is dedicated, composed and conscientious and meticulously follows the rules and his religion. Reid was abandoned as a baby and found and raised by the Archbishop. And even though he was raised in a Church, he found it in himself to question his beliefs. And yet, they slowly start to trust each other while opening themselves; mind and heart.

“Maiden, Mother, and Crone,” I murmured. He nodded approvingly, and warm satisfaction spread through me. “An embodiment of femininity in the cycle of birth, life, and death… among other things. ’Tis blasphemous, of course.” He scoffed and shook his head. “As if God could be a woman.”

I loved how his book addressed the important subject of the place of women in the society, especially in a religious one where they are considered as proprieties of their husbands(also, beware this book had a mature scene, nothing extreme but definitely steamy). The contrast between both sides was well balanced with both positive and negative aspects, nuancing points of view and making none of them totally wrong or totally good. All the characters were beautifully grey and layered, with their own motives, their own pasts and their own traumas. Shelby Mahurin is a talented writer, this book was a page-turner, I’ve never read a 500 pages book in less than 48 hours and yet here I did. She created a very compelling world-building with an action-packed climax and the most amazingly crafted and unique magic system.

I always prefer when magic comes with a cost and in Serpent & Dove the cost required was balance, the more they wanted from the magic, the more they needed to give back (a broken bone, a memory…), it was so interesting to read about. It’s funny how the use of a few French words made this much more real for me, it didn’t make it more mystical since I understood them all, being French, but it made it look like she actually searched about my country and my culture and it was so satisfying. However, I found some reviews saying that they didn’t understand the words and that made the parts boring, can you give me your feelings on that?

“I knew who you were. I knew what you believed . . . and I fell in love with you anyway.”

I still have so much to say and this review is getting crazily long so I’ll try to make it short, I loved the side characters, especially Coco and Ansel that were such loyal friends, Coco showed the perfect case of female friendship / female supporting female and Ansel’s silence acceptance of Lou was so beautiful. To me this book is about claiming back power and identity as well as learning to accept others for who they are, having an open mind and make an opinion for yourself.

Overall, Serpent & Dove was addictive, with all the tropes you need such as enemies-to-lovers, forbidden love, a slow-burn romance, female best friends, developed characters, witch hunters/witches with an intricate magical system, inner battles of moral between right and wrong, ancient war and morally grey characters. There is truly nothing I didn’t love about this book, so just dive in and be ready for a massive mourning period.


Have you read or will you read this book?
What did you think about it?

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French Book Blogger and avid reader 📚 - YA, Adult, NA, Fantasy, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance -, LGBT & disability rep 🏳️‍🌈, Ravenclaw Potterhead △⃒⃘, English teacher 👩🏼‍🏫 living to travel 🌍, proud mom of Padfoot 🐕 and Juniper 🐈

11 thoughts on “{ Project } { ARC } { Review } Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

  1. LAURIE! This is such a magnificent review!! Honestly I had zero desire to read it before your review. I’ve seen it getting some high praise but I just wasn’t buying it. I love forced marriages, hahaha, so I would have snatched this up had I known that. I do get sick of everyone being a thief (isn’t this trope done yet?!) But I also love magic at a cost. I’ll add it to my TBR ASAP. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yaaaaay! Actually you just said once of the nicest things that have ever been said to me since I bookblog! It’s really rare when books make it in my all time favourite shelf and when it’s the case, like for this one, I’m so glad to read that I did this book justice and that my review is actually compelling you to read it! Thank you, you’ve made my day 😍

      Liked by 1 person

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