A Brilliant & Fantastical Debut with Amazing World Building and Awesome Characterization <3 | ARC Review: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

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.

Disclaimer: I received a physical copy of the book from Harper Collins International in exchange for an honest review! However, the thoughts, opinions expressed in the review are entirely my own.

I absolutely love it when I find a fantasy book that is able to find that perfect balance between a rich fantasy world WITHOUT overloading its readers with new information – Serpent & Dove, a brilliant debut not only is able to balance perfectly on that finely edged sword but is also able to deliver on a wonderful world that I couldn’t help but immerse myself in!

Here, we have Lou, a girl on the run from her mother and her clan of witches – yes she is a witch in hiding; in a city where magic is abhorred and witches hunted by Chasseurs – cheery times for our heroine, isn’t it? She survives by stealing and conning with her own band of misfits – trying so hard to stay below the radar from the boys’ club, who would like nothing but to burn her stake.

On the other hand, we have our hero, Reid; the staid, rule following Captain of guards in Chasseurs – who has been bought up on the tales of the wicked witches, who need to be hurt and pay for their ‘sins’. He is in love with a woman; but cannot marry her; for she wants him to focus on his aim of ridding the world of witches. How sweet. Not.

Hilarious turn of circumstances leads to marriage of convenience between our very opposite protagonists; Lou and Reid – a marriage that is fraught with secrets, mostly on Lou’s side; for she is hiding the fact that she is a witch; and the man she calls her husband; the man she is slowly falling for, has only one job in the world – to hunt women like her.

Serpent & Dove is a fantastical debut – easy to understand and a simple plot with hidden themes of oppression, discrimination and gender inequality. It is in the end, an intense, fast paced plot, full of twists and turns and some hilariously amazing dialogues and conversations which awe you with its snark and sass (trust me, I now have a lot of ammunition in fights against my poor hubby!).

The only reason why it doesn’t get the whole freaking stars in the universe is because it falls victim to the one trope that YA books somehow can’t seem to avoid – the insta – love between protagonists. Don’t get me wrong; I adored the connection and interaction between Lou and Reid; but the whole “in love with you” conversation came out of the blue for me.

Still, that was a teeny – tiny bloop in otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable book; so the wait for the next book is going to be tedious and mostly me stalking the author’s social media pages for any updates on the sequel.

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