Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Book Review: "Blood & Honey" by Shelby Mahurin

Blood & Honey (Serpent & Dove, #2)
Title: Blood & Honey
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Series: "Serpent & Dove" #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length: 532
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: 4.5 // 5 stars

*I was provided a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own*

Okay so if you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that Serpent & Dove was my favorite book of 2019. Blood & Honey was my *most* anticipated release of this year. And I will start this review by saying that I enjoyed this book. Did I love it? No. Is Serpent & Dove still my favorite? Yes. But did I enjoy this book? Also yes.

So I've actually been sitting on my thoughts for a few days and ending up raising my rating. I originally gave Blood & Honey four stars but, after looking back on it, I decided to raise it because of how good this book was.

Let me be clear: this book is not like Serpent & Dove. Serpent & Dove has just the right amount of angst amongst all the fluff and humor to be a multi-faceted book. But there's a feeling of hope throughout. I'm always happy reading Serpent & Dove even if the characters are in tough situations.

Blood & Honey is not that.

I knew going in that Blood & Honey was going to be different. Not only is doing the same book twice boring but, with the way things were left at the end of Serpent & Dove, it wouldn't have been realistic. Blood & Honey is a natural progression of the situations that we were in at the end of book one.

Blood & Honey made my heart ache almost from the very beginning. This is not a happy book. The characters are in a very tough situation at the end of the first book and there's very little time passed between that ending and this beginning. We're tossed right into the mess of it all and things are happening right away. Every scene had a purpose and added to the plot or character development even if it doesn't initially seem that way.

Serpent & Dove is a layered book but still relatively uncomplicated whereas Blood & Honey is complex and makes you think. Decisions made in the beginning were impacting events towards the end of the book. Little offhand comments in the first few chapters were thought back to when the climax was coming. This was an incredibly intricate storyline and I really liked that. I liked getting the foreshadowing and how it made me have so many theories as I read. I liked that it made me think.

One of the main things that I liked about Blood & Honey, apart from all the clever foreshadowing, was the expansion of the world. I loved Serpent & Dove but at the end of reading it I was wanting to know more about the witches and other aspects of the magic system. I was really happy to see that explored in much more depth in this book. Not only did we get to see more of Lou's type of magic, but also blood witches and other magical creatures. I honestly can't wait to see more of all of it in the third (and final) book!

The characters go through a lot. It seems like everything that can go wrong for them, goes wrong. Add in tense moments between each other, mistakes they made, and the stress of their situation and no one is really having a good time. There is one character in particular who my heart went out to the entire book and just gave me all the feels even more than the others. Also, I found myself really becoming more attached to a certain character from book one that I hadn't really felt anything about before so that felt nice.

I've seen a few people nagging on Lou and Reid in this book but I just think that the way they were portrayed and developed throughout was natural and realistic. After the ending in book one and the situation they're in during Blood & Honey, there's a lot of strain on them and their relationship. I think what would have been more annoying, for me, is to see everything return to the way it was between them before the ending of Serpent & Dove. Can you tell I'm trying not to spoil anything and that's why everything sounds so vague? I thought that their relationship development in this book was actually really well done, even if a bit frustrating at times.

There were a few things that made me drop my rating but I don't want to spoil anything and to talk about them would do that. I'll just stick with saying that there were some unresolved questions I had and some inconsistencies that I noticed. Additionally, there were a few times where I felt the story wasn't grabbing me as much as the first book had. I think that can be attributed to the two books having such different feels but it's still something that I was noticing as I read. I also will say that, although I enjoyed this book and gave it four and a half stars, I think that there is a little bit of second-book slump happening here.

Overall, Blood & Honey made me an emotional mess. Out of all the possibilities I could have predicted, the way this ended was not one of them. There were a couple things at the end that really hit me and I am still an emotional mess. I am so excited for the third book and I honestly can't wait for all of my copies and book boxes to come in so that I can be immersed in the feels again!

Thanks for reading!

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