Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin is a brilliant debut, full of everything readers of the genre love: a sparkling and fully realized heroine, an intricate and deadly system of magic, and a searing romance that will keep readers reading long into the night. Released on September 3rd, 2019, Mahurin’s debut novel is the Indigo Teen Staff Pick of the Month – and also featured in their most recent Indigo Book Box!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin  from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review. 

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. As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage. Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

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Set in a world of powerful women, dark magic, and off-the-charts romance, Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin will leave readers intrigued and burning for more. Filled to the brim with powerful female witches, witchcraft, and forbidden love, readers won’t be able to get enough of this wonderfully new world – even if Mahurin’s writing does leave something to be desired.

“Undiluted by indecision, he saw the world in black and white, suffering none of the messy, charcoal colors in between. The colors of ash and smoke. Of fear and doubt.” – Shelby Mahurin, Serpent & Dove

Readers will definitely love the moral grey-ness of both of the main characters – and the depth and development of the secondary characters as well. Louise le Blanc (Lou), as a secret witch with a dangerous secret, despises everything that Reid Diggory and his Order of huntsman stand for – even if she has renounced her parentage and witch background. Reid, an orphan who has risen to power among the huntsman, is dedicated to hunting and killing witches – no matter what the cost. Throughout the story, both Lou and Reid are at constant war with their believes and choices. They belong to opposite extremist factions, and when they are forced to interact on a daily basis, they slowly chip away at some of each other’s armor as they discover each other and unravel their own beliefs – questioning everything they once thought they knew.

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The plot of Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin is fast paced and full of twists that will keep readers engaged from the very first page until the last. The magic system, the rich world, and the forbidden romance all come together to craft quite the engaging story. Mahurin’s world building is wonderfully crafted, with an intriguing magical system and a eye catching historical setting. Witch hunters, a powerful church, a corrupt royal family, witches hell-bent on revenge, and a historical French setting make for a perfect blend of physical intrigue and magical wonder. The magic system itself is also refreshing and intriguing, with different covens of witches, developed lore, and religious prosecution blending perfectly together to further develop the lore of the world and magic Mahurin has created. Finally, the powerful romance that sprouts between Lou and Reid is powerful and definitely steamy. Their romance is a classic enemies-to-lovers tale, and the two complemented each other perfectly. Each component blends together and creates a brutal and grim setting that acts as the perfect stage for this story.

“Your god hates women. We were an afterthought.” –  Shelby Mahurin, Serpent & Dove

Despite the magic system, the rich world, and the forbidden romance, and the richly developed characters, Mahurin’s writing still falls a bit short in her debut novel. The twists were a tad too predictable; the big reveals were too much, too quick all at the end; and, at times, the writing felt a bit juvenile. Overall, some of the plot points just didn’t quite make sense, or pan out in a way that would be reasonable, and really, the whole thing was a bit anticlimactic – from the romance to the plot, everything just fell a bit short of that wow-factor readers will be hoping for from Serpent & Dove.

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Overall,book one of Mahurin’s stunning fantasy duology will leave readers wanting more – more romance, more magic, and more of the stunning French setting – even if the writing leaves something to be desired (3.5/5).

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