Friday, October 11, 2019

Review: SERPENT & DOVE by Shelby Mahurin

Rating: 4/5 stars

Initially, I didn’t want to read this book. I got eight pages in and stopped. But it’s the book club pick at my job so I needed to finish it. I tried the first chapter again, this time with the audiobook. And it was more interesting, but it still didn’t have me hooked. So I read the first chapter a third time, and finally, after that, I decided I was excited to see what lay ahead.

We follow two perspectives: Lou and Reid, a witch and a witch hunter. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, they are forced into marriage with each other. They hated each other and neither wanted to get married—I loved the foreshadowing preceding this where they each said they’d never marry and then they ended up in this situation. The problem is, Reid doesn’t know Lou is a witch, and the motto he lives by is “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Lou has to hide who she is to stay alive.

I love how fierce Lou is. Way too often I read a book with a BA female protagonist who is all talk and no action, but Lou actually draws blood and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself. She’s vicious in the best way, and I love it. She’s the hardcore female protagonist I’ve been wanting in my stories! I’m so happy with her characterization.

One thing that bothered me was that Lou always referred to Reid as “my husband” for the first half of the book, never by name, which I thought was a bit unnatural.

The enemies-to-lovers trope here is one of the main reasons I was interested to keep reading. I became so engaged in the story, excited to see what new ways they would torment each other.

I do think the plot got lost to the character developments and the relationship between Reid and Lou. We were introduced to the plot in the beginning and it picked up again in the end, but the whole middle of the book was entirely character-focused. I didn’t mind though because it was an entertaining book from start to finish.

Although this is a young adult fantasy, the characters are older and it has a more mature feel, which I appreciated. I think with a few tweaks it could even pass for an adult fantasy, which might contribute to why I liked it so much because that’s primarily what I read these days.

Serpent and Dove has a heavy French influence. This was actually one of the reasons I was turned off from it at the beginning because I don’t know any French and there were a lot of French words thrown in that I didn’t understand and I felt confused. Eventually, though, this became a non-issue and I actually began to enjoy the French. And of course my naturally curious mind couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn something new, so I had to look up the definition of every foreign word I saw. Let’s just say this book gives a new meaning to the phrase “pardon my French”: I learned more French swear words than other words while reading.

For a book about witches, I do wish we saw more magic and got more information about the witches. We know there are at least Dames Blanche and Dames Rouge, two different kinds of witches, but we don’t really know much about either of them and that’s what I’d like to know most. What are the limitations of their magic and are there more than just those two kinds of witches in this world?

I’m really glad I pushed through the first chapter because the book only went uphill from there. I ended up really enjoying the story, and this has become a series I will keep on my radar to read future installments when they are released. I do sort of wish this had been a standalone novel because I think it could have been wrapped up in one book and now I’m worried the next book(s) will drag on about unnecessary events, but we will see.

Overall, Serpent and Dove was entertaining from start to finish and continued to capture my interest as I read. It never felt slow or dragging, despite its length, and I appreciated that. The book definitely had its problems—it’s not perfect by any means—but it was certainly fun to read and that’s what matters.

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