Title: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Age Range: Young Adult
Genre(s): Fantasy, Romance
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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.
TW/CW: self-harm (to acquire blood for blood magic), violence (mild descriptions on page), misogyny (unchallenged)
Serpent & Dove was The Cruel Prince of 2019. This was THE book that BookTube was reading and had some of the most mixed reviews I’ve seen in quite a while. Early reviews were praising this book and after release, this book was being DRAGGED. Also, other reviewers I trust are all over the place with this one, leading to this book being one of the most intimidating on my TBR as I had no clue where my feelings were going to fall.
So, preamble aside, what do I actually think of this book?
Um…I didn’t like it.
I will be going into some spoilers for this review, so consider this your spoiler warning!
Okay, so I think my biggest issue with this book is that I didn’t care. I didn’t care about the plot, I didn’t care about the characters, I just didn’t care. Half-way through this book, I almost DNFed it but ended up reading something else instead, allowing me to push through.
While I can’t pin exactly what caused me to not connect with this book, a definite contributing factor was Lou as a character. I felt that she was written to be incredibly immature while feigning maturing. This was most apparent in Lou finding humor in singing a lued bar song or cussing to anger Reid. I totally get that this is a book marketed towards teens, but as this book did deal with some intense subject matter and had an explicit sex scene, it felt like it was marketed towards older teens, though the humor is very juvenile.
This immediately put me off the characters. Furthermore, this is supposed to be an enemies to lovers story as Lou is a witch and Reid is a witch hunter, and while there is definitely the enemies aspect, the lovers aspect is…odd. They didn’t grow that much as characters and never admitted that their viewpoints or actions were wrong or problematic, but they also don’t spend that much time together. I can kind of see where they might feel more affection for each other, but I never really felt their romance blossom over the course of the book.
To be honest, I didn’t really feel that anything happened over the course of this book. The book starts with Lou and Coco trying to acquire a magical item that will help Lou hide from her mom. Lou gets caught and ends up crossing paths with Reid and Reid (Reid appears to be attempting to by assaulting Lou, due to her appearing disheveled after being jumped by other characters) app, and to save face he and Lou need to marry. Then a whole lot of nothing happens until the end when Lou and Reid fight over a secret. Lou ends up back with her mom. Things are revealed and the book ends.
This book is over 500 pages.
I honestly think some things could’ve been cut and the book could’ve been shorter, though that may be due to me being bored while reading this. I think the biggest travesty of me not connecting with this book, is that I didn’t care about any of the reveals. I recognize that all of the reveals have significant weight in this world, though none of them resonated with me or felt like they had any impact.
I did find the different types of witches interesting. We have some characters that are able to do blood magic and a separate cover that can see patterns and use their magic to control this. I wish we got a bit more information about how these magic systems worked and better idea as to why different witches have different powers, though the final reveal of this book suggests we might be getting this information in the sequel.
Y’all, I wanted to love this book so much. I’ve seen a lot of people adore this book and I was super excited to dive in, but this really missed the mark for me. The attempts at humor felt incredibly juvenile and the characters never connected with me. This book did have some redeeming qualities, saving it from a 1-star rating. I’m not really sure if I’m going to continue on with the series, I think I’m going to wait for some reviews.