Title: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Date Published: September 3rd, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Bound as one to love, honour, 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.
The book is set in the land of Belterra where witches are burned by Chasseur’s (Witchhunters), who are led by the Archbishop. They are ruthless and unmarried (mostly – but it is very much frowned upon), and their main rule – Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live - is a testament to their dedication at decimating witch kind.
Lou has been living undetected for two years after fleeing her coven. She hides her magic and does whatever she needs to survive. She had been careful and vigilante until one burglary goes very wrong. This unfortunate situation leads Lou into another problematic situation with a Chasseur – Reid. The Archbishop offers Lou the chance to marry Reid to save his reputation or she can go to prison for life.
Lou takes advantage of this and accepts the marriage as it will offer her protection from those who hunt her. However, living in secret as a witch in the den of those who would kill her isn’t the easiest task. Over time she and Reid develop a friendship as they try to salvage a marriage neither of them wanted.
The romance played a big role in the story however, Lou has a much bigger role to play in the war between witches and Chasseurs. This was done very well, and neither side was solely good or evil which was refreshing. The inevitable moment when the witch hunters find out the truth about Lou hung over the story but in a way that was addictive to read. After reading the romance and love develop between Reid and Lou it was an intense moment when he found out the truth.
The events after this were wholly unexpected and ended up with the assembly of a group of unlikely companions. I thoroughly enjoyed this group and their attempts to save Lou. The ending did not turn out how I expected and had some big surprises in store. I am looking forward to seeing how this is explored in the rest of the series, as well as see how Lou and Reid's relationship developed now that their lives have changed completely.
Overall, I loved this book. I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did but Lou was rowdy, funny, surprising with an unfortunate history and she captivated me throughout the book. Her relationship with Reid was the perfect slow burn/ enemies to lovers/ marriage of convenience romance. The magic system was very different from other witch books, so I'm intrigued to find out more about the Dame Rouges in Blood & Honey. The magic system wasn’t explained in depth so it may leave you with unanswered questions, but I felt that I had all the information I needed and I enjoyed the new take on magic. It was an amazing debut novel, and I will be reading Blood & Honey soon. No doubt Shelby Mahurin will come up with many more captivating stories in the future, she’s one to watch!
Rating: 4.5 star