Title: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
ARC provided by the publisher.
“A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end–a stake and a match.”
It’s only July, and already I have been blessed with another glorious debut. Shelby Mahurin has written a deliciously rich and enchanting fantasy. If Serpent & Dove hasn’t already made it onto your TBR yet, it needs to be.
Serpent & Dove is set in 17th century French inspired world, in which there is an ongoing enmity between cults of witches and the Church. The descriptive writing and the careful details woven into the worldbuilding really shine. Shelby Mahurin does an excellent job crafting and describing the society and the magic systems in a way that is believable and compelling. I loved that the book is not black and white: both the witches and the Chasseurs–the witch hunters belonging to the Church–have nuances to them that make them neither side totally wrong nor totally good.
This book contains the holy trinity of my favorite tropes: a forced/fake marriage, enemies-to-lovers, and slow-burn romance. The characters of this book absolutely drive the plot. Lou is an amazing heroine: she’s tenacious, cunning, and yet has a soft heart. Reid will steal your heart, as he did mine. He’s character growth throughout the story is off the charts. The dynamic between Lou and Reid is phenomenal. I was living for all that tension brewing between them. And for a YA book, this was surprisingly (and pleasantly) steamier than most. Nothing extreme, but definitely more mature. I loved it.
Shelby Mahurin pulled no punches with the last quarter of the book. The stakes are high throughout the story, but it all comes to an action-packed climax. There are a few delightful twists at the end and I am really looking forward to the sequel! Serpent & Dove is a not a book to miss.