Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Title: Serpent & Dove
Series: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 528
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: ★★★★☆

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

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.

And love makes fools of us all.

I’d been hearing about this book on Bookstagram, BookTube, and BookTwitter as an anticipated release for September 2019. And then the Barnes & Noble YA Book Club chose it as the book for the October 10, 2019 meeting. So of course, I picked up a copy as soon as I had the money. I’m definitely not sorry I did.

Serpent & Dove is Shelby Mahurin’s debut novel. As such, it does suffer a bit from “first book syndrome” where the story starts off rather slowly and takes a bit to get into. In fact, the only reason I stuck it out was because when I went in to purchase November’s YA book club book, the bookseller who was helping me with my purchase told me she’d read the book and that it should start getting better around page 125. It took me a little longer than that – I had to get to page 239 before I really to go that “I need to keep reading, I have to know what’s happening next” stage. But each reader is different.

Shelby Mahurin doesn’t use a flowery or pretty writing style. I noticed that while she uses descriptions, she doesn’t rely on them as much as other authors (Stephen King, I’m looking at you). I found that there was a perfect balance of descriptions, dialogue, and action.

As far as characters go, I love Lou and Reid. I can’t stand Morgane, Andre, or Grue. Jean Luc is OK, but I’d love to throttle him half of the time. I like Coco and Ansel a lot as well. I don’t want to get into too much detail because honestly, I feel like describing any of the characters would end up as a spoiler.

All in all, I gave the book four stars because the writing and characters are solid. The reason it doesn’t get a full five stars is that it does start out pretty slowly and a bit frustratingly as far as lack of backstory goes. While those things are revealed later, I found myself irritated that these things were being mentioned, but I had no clue what was going on.

I will say that as Shelby Mahurin has announced the title of the sequel to Serpent & Dove as being Blood & Honey, I am eagerly anticipating the second book’s release, whenever that may be.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

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