This is a case of bookstagram made me do it! I’ve been seeing the debut novel Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin all over bookstagram and everyone is loving it. So, I had to give it a try myself. I don’t read a huge amount of YA fantasy but I’ve really enjoyed the books I have read like the Throne of Glass series and ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas.
Serpent & Dove was a really enjoyable book that mixed romance, magic, intrigue and adventure. I devoured this over a day and can’t wait to read the sequel. It’s set in a fantasy world where witches are the enemy and hunted by the Church and a group of holy warriors named Chasseurs. Louise (Lou) is a witch hiding her identity on the streets of the city of Cesarine. She steals and does what is needed to survive because there’s something even more terrible than witch hunters after her. Reid Diggory is the Captain of the Chasseurs and the right-hand man of the Archbishop. He hates witches with a vengeance and lives a chaste and godly life.
Under these conditions, Lou and Reid meet and clash. When they meet for a third time, a mishap puts Reid into a compromising public situation with Lou. The Archbishop decides that the only remedy is for the pair to marry. Lou agrees for her own complicated reasons, but she has no plans to be an easy or biddable wife to Reid.
As you can expect from such a plot, the ground is set for lots of fireworks. There are also a few tasty subplots woven into the book and mystery about Lou’s past which is revealed as the book goes on. Lou is a very brash character in comparison to Reid. Both are opposites. But having to share a small room together and being forced together by marriage makes them reluctantly start to open up to each other. And of course, the reader is aware of the big witchy secret that Lou is hiding from Reid that could explode at any moment.
When I was reading Serpent & Dove, I got major Sarah J. Maas vibes. The main character Lou reminded me a lot of the protagonist Celaena from Throne of Glass. They are both feisty females with swagger, known to solve arguments with their fists or their smart mouths. The character Reid really grew on me despite his prejudice to witches. He’s oddly sweet and innocent compared to Lou.
Serpent & Dove was a lot of fun to read. I loved the ye olde French inspired fantasy world and the different kinds of witches within it. At times it read like a first-time novel – albeit a very accomplished one. I feel like this is one author who will just get better and better with each book.
Verdict: A fantastic YA fantasy debut for readers who love Sarah J. Maas.