Books Reviews Young Adult Fiction

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

June 3, 2020
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove feels as though it has been a permanent fixture in the book community for years. In reality, it was only published last year. I think it feels that way because it was part of the YA snake debate. Cover design aside I've found a new favourite book. 

When I first started reading this I was aware of the differing opinions. Some people reaaaaally hated this and DNF'd it, whilst others utterly loved it. Like everything, no book will ever satisfy the entire reading populace. For me, I loved it for a few reasons, one of them being the setting. I have a soft spot for any novel set in France or a French-inspired land, it's one of my favourite countries that I have many happy memories of. The art and history fascinate me and being a hopeless romantic, of course, I'd say that I like it. Throughout the book, French phrases and idioms were sprinkled throughout adding a, dare I say je ne sais quoi... It really made you feel as though you'd been transported to another land and another time. Serpent & Dove, besides being inspired by France is also a historical novel, I'm hedging my bets that it's the 17th century from how the cities were described and also the clothing, in particular, that of the women. 

Belterra, the country the story is placed in is patriarchal and deeply religious. However, if you look close enough there are pockets of subtle rebellion. Women dressing as men, women going to pubs and singing naughty songs...I'm looking at you, Lou. The vast majority of this stems from the hunting of Witches, a purely female species. A woman walking alone is enough to insight the suspicion of witchcraft within this story. However, a lot of witches in this world use their magic to cause immense harm to others. Unfortunately, as so often happens all witches get tarred with the same brush, thought to be a danger and hunted. That rivalry is at the heart of the novel when Lou, a witch on the run from her coven is forced to marry Reid a Chasseur (their name for witch hunter). Ensue my favourite trope of hate to love romance. 

Separately I enjoyed watching the characters grow and change their opinions of one another. I liked that Lou was a morally grey character who was simply trying to survive in a world where she no longer felt she had a place. She was loud, brash and stubborn and yet still had a vulnerable side to her that Reid slowly coaxed out. I'll never not laugh at the thought of this small woman causing huge discomfort to the men around her when she sang a song about a particular well-endowed woman. Brilliant. My favourite thing is that romantically, she was the one with the experience. It's not often that you read of a more sexually experienced woman. Very refreshing. Reid, on the other hand, had a stick up the ... from the very beginning. Like Lou, he was stubborn but due to his rigid beliefs, not his personality though he could be stubborn there too. He never let loose, was always on duty and never had time for fun. Then he met Lou and slowly he too began to break down walls he'd built so high. Together, gold. They were respectful, sweet and teasing. Loved it. 

As for the story I was wholly enamoured with Lou's story. I felt as though danger was lurking around every corner, sometimes afraid to turn the page in fear of what I'd see happen to the characters I'd grown so attached too. It was a large book but to me, it felt well-paced with enough twists and turns to keep me on my toes. I never felt like 'oh what now' each problem that arose was believable. The ending. Loved it. Such a clever way to finish the book. 

I can't wait for the next one. 

P.S everyone needs a friend like Coco in their lives. 



Name: Serpent & Dove

Author: Shelby Mahurin

Publisher: Harper Teen

Pages: 513

ISBN: 978-0-006-287802-1

Rating: 5/5

Have you read Serpent & Dove?

What did you think?

Thank you for reading,

Katie x

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