Fantasy Reviews Young Adult

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin Review

Looking for a high-stakes magical fantasy read for adventure seekers and hopeless romantics alike? Serpent & Dove is a veritable crowd pleaser and one you’ll want to pick up.

Let’s go in for a (spoiler-free) re-cap, shall we:

Eighteen-year-old Lou is a witch who escaped her coven — the Dames Blanches — on her 16th birthday (the day on which a witch comes into her full powers). Since then, Lou has been living a magic-free life in hiding and relies on thieving to get by. Until one day, her thieving lands her in hot waters with the Chasseurs. The Chasseurs are witch-hunters, who can literally smell when a witch uses her magic. Umm, gross, ….?? Only it’s not really.

Making matters worse, the Chasseur who is after Lou is not just any witch hunter — Captain Reid Diggory is the lead witch-hunter. In his stubborn determination to capture Lou, Reid lands himself in such a compromising situation (a playhouse stage is involved, a tangle of limbs, and an audience of puritanical onlookers) that the only way to salvage Reid’s spotless reputation is through the marriage of Reid and Lou. That’s what the Archduke (Reid’s boss and number-one fan) demands. Reid agrees because, well, reputation and rank. Lou agrees for her own gain, knowing that living among the Chasseurs will mean protection from her coven. Even if Lou is now a witch living among witch-hunter, and her husband has no idea.

Now for the review part:

Serpent & Dove is the story of opposites Reid and Lou, a slow-burn romance set amid the intense violence of what is essentially a genocidal crusade waged by witch-hunters against witches. If the enemies-to-lovers trope is your thing (as it is mine), you are in for a fine treat as crass-humored and rebellious Lou upends the life of principled, stick-up-his-butt Reid. But Serpent & Dove digs much deeper, and the dangers of extremism is a well-explored theme. Things are not black and white; the Chasseurs aren’t bad and the witches good. The witches are capable of unfettered acts of terror. Innocents are harmed and maimed, lives are lost. And throughout the story, Lou and Reid both see their extreme views and biases challenged and toned-down into a more muted palette of grays.

Serpent & Dove delivers with some of this year’s most compelling main characters and equally gifts us a set of wonderfully complex secondary characters. Romance is central to the story, yes, but so is friendship. Not only the friendship between Lou and Coco (which is a standout) but also the budding friendships between a few witches and their hunters. Add to that the fantasy world of Ceasarine, which is richly crafted with an intricate system of magic, and stakes so high that you’ll find the pages turn themselves (as if by magic), and you’ve got yourselves an unstoppable, utterly binge-worthy read!

Book: Serpent & Dove
Published: HarperTeen
Pages: 513
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2019
Age Range: 16+
Stars: 5/5


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