Thursday, September 19, 2019

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Release Date - September 3, 2019
Publisher Website - Harper Collins Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages -  528 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
Serpent and Dove has pretty much everything a book lover could want. It has witches, forbidden romance, badass women, terrifying villains, and addictive writing.

The novel feels a little timeless in that it both feels old fashioned and modern at the same time. The church and the Chasseurs who hunt the witches feel historical, as does the expectations put on women (although the way women are treated also felt very timely as well at times) but the language and some details feel very current. It is this blend that makes the rest of the world building feel so authentic. I felt I could easily picture the setting of the story and the characters that inhabit it.

The witches and their magic systems are so well constructed. There are different categories of witches and each has a different relationship to magic. They access it differently and it manifests itself differently. I found myself fascinated by both the differences and similarities that exist. The magic elements are such a strong part of the world building and it makes the characters richer as a result. The witches themselves are portrayed as sexy and a little risque. This is, as expected, painted negatively by the Church so it is interesting to see the juxtaposition of how it is portrayed by each group.

Lou is a tough, determined, strong willed woman who has been through incredibly harrowing things. Her character is everything the Church says women should not be. She's too loud, too bold, too flirtatious, too inappropriate. She is a survivor and I loved her refusal to do what others expected of her. She is also fiercely loyal to those she loves but is not quick to give her trust.

Reid is, in many ways, a lot like Lou. He is stubborn in his beliefs. He is loyal to those he cares about. He carries around a lot of inner issues much like Lou does. He believes in something bigger than himself and that drives a lot of his decisions. His growth and the way in which he changes are some of my favourite parts of the novel.

The romance plays a big part in the story being told. It is forbidden romance at its best. It is electric and filled with its own kind of magic. There are secrets, lies, mistrust, and a pretty big personality clash that creates the tension a story like this needs but it is offset by all of the good that comes from this connection. They bring out things in each other and they are really respectful of each other without sacraficing who they are. It is a slow burn but it makes the moments between them connect just a little stronger with the reader.

I consider this novel to have two 'villains' and both of them are complex and, sort of, exist in a world of grey where nothing is presented in absolutes. The Church and The Chasseurs hunt and kill witches but not all of them are evil. We see that some are just a product of their teachings and believe lies they have been told. The other villain is too spoilery to talk about in full but they are equally layered and everything ties together with some delicious plot twists thrown in to make it evident that no side is good or evil. It all comes down to perception and morality. It made the antagonists more complex and also made for a more satisfying read.

If your looking for a paranormal read to get lost in I highly recommend this one. It will leave you instantly wanting to get your hands on the sequel and eager to read anything this author writes next. It is a page turner in the truest sense as I could not follow Lou on her journey fast enough

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