Full review to come.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Teen in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Few things compare to that feeling you get after finishing a book that lived up to your expectations. Ever since I read the blurb of this book I knew I was going to love this and I WAS NOT DISSAPOINTED.
It had everything I adore:
• addictive; easy writing
• marriage of convenience
• witch/witch hunter romance
• slow burn
• intricate magical system
• heart warming female friendship
• morally grey characters
• inner battle of right and wrong
In the land of Belterra witches are burned at the stake and the Chasseur (Witchhunters), with the Archbishop as their leader, are ruthless. Their number one rule: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.
Two years ago Lou left her coven (for reasons I shan’t go into) and was forced to live a life of suppressing her magical nature and living in constant vigilence. She has to do what she can to survive. That being: lie, steal and kill if necessary. For life is hard in the city of Cesarine, especially for a woman.
She’s managed to live for two years undetected. She was careful… up until one burglary (gone wrong) set the wheels in motion.
With the Chasseur on her tail and enemies of her past close on her heels, Lou slips up again and ends up in a compromising position with the Caption of the Chasseur. The Archbishop comes up with a solution: Lou can either go to prison for the rest of her life or she can marry the Captain and save his virtuous reputation.
Lou, being the smart girl she is, chooses marriage to the handsome Captain Diggory ; ). Being married to a Chasseur also grants her the protection she desperately needs from those who (also) hunt her.
Reid Diggory is a dedicated witch hunter. Despite his views on witches, he is honorable and loyal. It was such a pleasure reading about him. He is so set in his ways and it was amazing to see him loosen up and change.
The beginning was really funny as neither of them trusted the other and they were always bickering. Watching as Reid and Lou’s relationship slowly blossomed, how they opened up and became more than two people stuck in an unwanted marriage was so beautiful.
I knew who you were. I knew what you believed . . . and I fell in love with you anyway.
Their relationship reminded me so much of Matthias and Nina from Six of Crows. So if you loved those two, you’re gonna love this!!!
I’d actually tag this as more of a New Adult than YA.
A warning for the youngins or for anyone not comfortable with it: there is an explicit sex scene. Kinda like ACOMAF.
The romance is a big part of this story but Lou has a part to play in the war between humans and witches and we’re always made aware of what could happen if Lou’s enemies were to find her.
This whole story revolves around the Church against the Witches. I liked that neither side was portrayed as comepletly good or comepletly bad.
Each side despicable—a twisted perversion of what should’ve been. Each side suffering. Each side capable of great evil. And then there was me.
I looked around at the worshippers once more—the men and women who pleaded for mercy and cried for my blood on the same breath. How could both be in their hearts?
One of the most important things for me when reading is whether I connect with the characters. And I feel like the author did a fantastic job in that regard. I felt their joy and their inner turmoil and by the end I would give an organ for any of these precious characters.
They might’ve all been hypocrites, but I was the biggest of all. I just loved everything about this book. The romance; the action; the plot twists — IT WAS BRILLIANTLY DONE. I could go on and on about how much I love this book but I think I’ll stop now.
I was lucky enough to read SERPENT & DOVE before publication, and it quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. If you’re a fan of Sarah J Maas’ mature themes, then this is a MUST-READ. Below I’ve jotted some other reasons to pick this up. Don’t mind my scrambled brain. Also, PICK THIS BOOK UP. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
Things SERPENT & DOVE has that I never knew I needed until the second I did (in random order… because I said so):
1. Forced Marriage: I swooned with the rest of the world while reading Outlander and seeing Jamie and Claire’s relationship blossom, but the marriage of convenience in this is. so. good. Like, blow your socks off, melt your brain, and make you binge on Ben & Jerry’s good.
2. Chasseurs (AKA French Witch Hunters Affiliated with the Church): Brooding fae-men with wings are hot. Vampires are sexy. BUT THIS BOOK’S WITCH HUNTER, REID, IS THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF HOT, SEXY, SWEET, AND PURE. I will fight for Reid. I will die for him. And I will die for this dynamic of witch and witch hunter thrown together. AND HIS CHARACTER ARC…. UGHHHH. This is a man who learns his lesson. Multiple times. And it’s fantastic.
3. L O U: Our main heroine is so spunky, so sassy, you’ll be cracking up with her on every page. With a tragic backstory, and, tbh, a tragic present, it’s amazing she never once turned mopey or broody. She leapt off every page, and I don’t think it took a single chapter before I knew she was going to be my best fictional friend. She’s strong, funny, independent, and she puts Reid in his place often. So often. When life throws a challenge at Lou, she smashes it to bits and demands a sticky bun in return. SHE IS THE HEROINE YA NEEDS.
4. The Sides being a bit more than Sides: Okay, so I could put each of these wonderful “side” characters into their own sections, but then I’d want to spoil and gush, and I CANT DO THAT YET. GAH. BUT, I will say, Coco, Ansel, and even lovely, stubborn Beau, will split your heart into three as you toy with who to give it to. Just share it between them and be done with it. Trust me. None of these characters feels forced, all of them have personalities and dreams and lives, and the way they compliment each other gives me SO MANY FEELS. I want to weave all the moment of Lou and Coco together and use it as a blanket. THIS IS A GOOD FRIENDSHIP LADIES AND GENTS. THIS IS A FRIENDSHIP I WILL WALK THROUGH FIRE FOR.
5. Villains Being Beautifully Gray: THERE IS NO GOOD SIDE TO TAKE IN THIS STORY. EXCEPT PROBABLY LOU’S. ALSO BECAUSE I SAID SO. There are motives abound. This isn’t some hastily put together nemesis who blabs about taking over the world and destroying enemies. This is real and raw. This is an age old fight between two sides- both in the wrong. Both in the right. And it’s executed to actual perfection. There are so many layers to each antagonist, each read-through is a new, eye-opening experience.
6. WITCHES: I know. I know. This is a witch book, and I was unaware I wanted witches. Going into this, the only witch stories I’d read were urban fantasies. I’ve never seen witches utilized in a historical fantasy such as this. There is darkness and depth. Maturity. Nuance. Shelby Mahurin made me more of a fan of witches than I imagined possible. Their magic system is so unique, so fresh, I want it etched into my brain forever as a HOW-TO-WRITE-MAGIC-PROPERLY example. And the witches relationships with one another, and to the earth, makes my heart pound double-time. I love them so much. Even if they’re a tad creepy… and bloodthirsty.
7. OTHER THINGS I CAN’T SAY BECAUSE SPOILERS: Wow. This plot is something else. You get pulled in because of the characters. Their dialogue took seconds to drag me under, but the plot kept me hooked. It’s new. It’s different. And I’m so obsessed with how this story plays out. The main plot, the romance, the friendships, everything ties together in the most poetic way possible. It’s like reading Shakespeare, except I can understand it.
All in all, SERPENT & DOVE is one of my favorite books of all time because it’s different, but not. It has tropes we love in YA: hate-to-love, a bubbly, real best friend, war, tricky relationships, but it spins them on their head. It’s not typical hate-to-love. It’s not your usual bubbly best friend because Lou is equally as bubbly. It’s everything I wanted in a book after devouring ACOMAF. Mature relationships and developed characters. Witty dialogue and beautiful prose. This book delivers in every way possible. I’m 1000% certain this book will RUIN the world. In the best way, of course.