Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Title:  Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: HarperTeen
Format: eBook
Publication Date: September 3,2019
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
Source:  Purchased

For her sixteenth birthday, Louise le Blanc’s mother gave her three things: a sacrificial altar, a ritual knife, and a wicked scar.

Lou’s death would have ended the ancient war between the Church and witches, but Lou refuses to become a martyr. Forsaking her coven, she escapes to the gloomy city of Cesarine and hides her magic as a thief in the criminal underworld. But life in Cesarine has its own dangers. Huntsmen roam the city revered as holy men. Witches burn without trial. And the Archbishop, the Church’s austere patriarch, revels in violence.

As a huntsman, Reid Diggory lives by one verse: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.

He’s devoted his entire life to eradicating the occult and making his surrogate father, the Archbishop, proud. Finally given the chance to capture a witch of his own, Reid is devastated when a foul-mouthed thief thwarts him—and doubly devastated when she too disappears. Hell-bent on bringing her to justice, Reid vows she won’t escape again. But when Lou tricks him into public scandal trying to avoid capture, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.

Marriage to a huntsman could provide real protection from the witches—if Lou can convince Reid she isn’t one herself. The secret proves difficult to keep as Lou begins practicing magic in secret within the heart of the Church, determined to prepare for her mother’s inevitable return. As time passes, however, Lou discovers yet another danger lurking: her own growing feelings for her husband. But Reid is still dangerous. He’s just as likely to tie her to the stake as defend her if he learns her true identity. With enemies closing in—and more than her own life at stake—Lou must decide who she can trust before it’s too late…and she’s not the only one with a secret. (less)

I saw Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin pop up in the fall as a recommendation from Stephanie at NoBSBookReviews/IdeallyInspiredReviews and she was so excited about it that it got me curious. I picked it up but I didn’t have expectations one way or another for it, and was just hoping it would be a good story. And I was blown out of the water. This book is stunning.
The plot is coherent, dynamic, and has the kind of twist I love in a thriller. But don’t be confused. This book is not a thriller, I mean it’s kind of a thriller? It’s a romance? It’s supernatural/paranormal/fantasy or? I don’t know, I really don’t know how to classify this book. It’s all of the things I just listed. It has mystery, romance, it’s about witches so it’s clearly supernatural, and it’s set in a fictional land that’s like France. It’s just a great twist on all these fantastic genres, and the world-building and prose is off the charts.
Shelby Malhurin is also no slouch in the character development category. Lou is one of the most well rounded, morally gray characters I’ve ever had the fortune of reading. She’s tough, feisty, kind, and also into self-preservation. It’s a captivating dichotomy in a main character, especially since when I read her internal dialogue I found myself nodding along sympathetically in understanding. Reid Diggory is also nuanced in such a wonderful way. He’s not morally gray in any way. Witches are BAD. Chasseurs(Witch Hunters) are meant to stay single and some Reid ends up with Lou as a wife. Witchy Lou, who never follows the rules and has an independent streak a mile wide.
The romance is such a slow burn for most of the novel, and it warmed my cold heart to read of them slowly following in love. Their love changed them and those around them into better people, and I cannot rave about this book enough. I will being picking up book 2 when it comes out, and I just really recommend it for people who love surprises. Because this review doesn’t even do it justice. 5 out of 5 stars.


**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I did not receive monetary compensation from it.**

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“I was no one’s sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”
― Shelby Mahurin, Serpent & Dove