Monday, August 26, 2019

Book Review: "Serpent & Dove" by Shelby Mahurin

Title: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Series: "Serpent & Dove" #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 528 pages
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Date Started: August 24, 2019
Date Finished: August 25, 2019
Rating: 5 // 5 stars 
Goodreads

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.

Ok so this is probably my favorite book of 2019. Considering I've read almost 120 books so far this year, that's pretty high praise as it means this book has beaten out every single other one. I just...I loved it. That's as simply as I can describe my feelings for this book. I loved it.

I first heard about this book through bookstagram or BookTube? I can't remember which BUT I knew from the moment I heard about it that this was a book I was dying to read. Fate was kind to me and I ended up winning an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway! I literally was jumping up and down screaming because of how excited I was. As I was waiting for my copy to arrive and trying to find the time to read it over the summer, I started seeing all these reviews start trickling down. All of them were 5 stars. All of them talking about how great this book was. It made me that much more excited but also a bit apprehensive. I'll admit--the hype intimidated me. That's why I waited so long from when I got my copy to when I finally read it. I didn't want anything significantly influencing my reading experience. I can finally say that this book deserves all the hype and then some.

I think the first thing about this book that stands out the most is that I was hooked every. single. second. Even in some of my favorite books of all time, there have been moments I've skimmed over without reading too in depth or parts that I thought were a tad boring compared to everything else. Don't get me wrong, I still love those books, but Serpent & Dove man...I never had one of those moments while reading this. Obviously I was anticipating finishing it because I wanted to know what was going to happen, but I was also loving every second of the book. I would go back and reread different scenes right after I finished them just so I could experience it again. I was hooked from page one and couldn't stop thinking about this book the entire weekend I was reading it over.

The writing style was wonderful. Shelby managed to write a compelling fantasy with all these different magical and societal systems yet it wasn't difficult to read. I was able to just fall into the world from the first page. There's something so effortless and easy about the writing in this book that allowed me to sink fully into it. While the writing was amazing in itself, the world was wonderfully written too. Information came when it was relevant so that we weren't confused about a situation but we weren't overburdened with it too soon. The way the world was introduced seemed to make it that much more accessible. Additionally, the magic system is one that I am absolutely fascinated with. We got a lot of bits and pieces of it in this first book but I'm eager to see even more in the sequel. It will also be interesting to see how certain revelations at the end of this one impact the previously held beliefs.

The story itself was one that I was obsessed with from page one. We got a bunch of my favorite tropes: forbidden romance, enemies to friends to lovers, marriage of convenience, badass main characters who are only soft for each other, etc. When I read the synopsis for this book the first time I was so hopeful that these tropes would be done well and they definitely exceeded my expectations. Not only that, but as I said before, there wasn't a single moment I was bored or skimming to get through faster. Yes, I liked some scenes more than others but I'm confident in saying I loved every scene in this book. Each had a purpose and contributed to the overall storyline. I've already gone back and reread a few of my favorite angsty scenes because I'm a sucker for them. The pacing was also very well done. I thought the story progressed well and even though it was 500+ pages, I felt like I flew through it. I would have been happy if it had been even longer.

My absolute favorite part about this book, though, was the characters. From the first page I knew I was going to love Lou. Then came Reid. These two are complete opposites of each other and I loved both of them for different reasons. Lou is unapologetically herself and doesn't care whether or not it offends someone. Reid is always trying to do the right thing by his beliefs, but sometimes that doesn't always work out. Both are stubborn and some of my favorite moments came when they were bickering. I could go on and on about how much I love the two of them but for sake of keeping this already-long review a bit shorter, I'll refrain from saying more than that.

Of course, the side characters were also great. Coco and Ansel, specifically, are some of my favorite side characters I've ever read. I would love to read more about them--I'd honestly just love an entire collection of short stories or scenes of all the characters that either didn't make it into the final book or were just fun bonus shorts. Another thing I liked about all of the characters is that none of them are wholly black or white. Each has something they're striving towards that could be an admirable goal, but maybe the way they're going about it isn't necessarily the greatest. I loved that aspect of this book. Nothing is ever completely black or white.

Some other things I enjoyed about this book...
The steaminess. Of course, the way everyone was talking about it made me think that there was going to be a lot more of it, but what we did get I liked. I would love to see even more in the next book.

The twists and reveals. Oh lord was the last 100-150 pages just twist after turn after bombshell. But none of it seemed unrealistic. Looking back at the entire book, little foreshadowed bits here and there really do make those reveals seem realistic while still surprising.

The humor. Oh god the humor was the best. I already went back to reread a couple scenes and found things I had missed that made me die of laughter. Lou is just hilarious and I was laughing so much throughout this book.

Speaking of laughter, the last line of the book had me rolling on the floor (metaphorically, of course). I'm not going to say what it is but everything about that line was perfect. Not only was it hilarious but it also showed a lot of character growth from the first part of the book to the end. I just...I'm still dying over it.

Overall, I loved this book. It's my favorite read of 2019 so far and I just know that it's going to sit on my favorites list from now on. I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on as many special editions as I can. I may even bring a copy with me abroad so that I can reread it before the year is over. I just...do yourself a favor and preorder a copy of this book!



Thanks for reading!
xoxo
Lauren



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