Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
All I knew about this book going into it is that it was a Fantasy. I was even confused before starting if it was a Young Adult or New Adult book. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I started reading and realized that this was a book about witches and witch hunters set in a fantastical version of 1600’s France. This book follows Lou, who is a witch in hiding from her coven, and Reid, who grew up and was trained by the Church to be a Chasseur (witch hunter). Due to various circumstances Reid and Lou are forced into marriage by the Archbishop and of course we see them start to fall in love with each other. In the peripheral of the romance are the increasing activity of the witches and the policies and politics of the Church.
The romance in this book was really well done and as authentic as a fantasy book can be. Reid sees Lou as uncivilized and untrustworthy and Lou really plays to that to get what she wants. The banter between the two and the slow burn of their romance make this 500 page book feel so much shorter. Also really well done is the internal conflict Lou has within herself about keeping her magic a secret. Clearly she is keeping the secret from Reid but since she is in hiding from her coven only a couple of people are aware who she is. This leads her to having to make some tough decisions to keep herself safe and she really struggles with the consequences of those decisions.
Another facet of the book that I found so fascinating was the Church and it’s narrow-minded perspective of the world. Especially when we get to know the world more and start to realize exactly how hypocritical and damaging the Church is. There are obvious parallels between the Church in the book and our modern version of Catholicism. I am not Catholic so I can’t speak to how accurate the book portrays certain themes and ideas presented in the book but it definitely highlights the negative side of the religion (or any religion really).
Coco, Lou’s best friend, is a blood witch and I found the different types of witches to be fascinating and I hope we learn more about the witch world in the next book. I think because so much time was spent on the romance that the book is missing some world building that would have made the story more enriching. Another negative to the book was how a relatively minor character suddenly had such a massive part of the ending. We seriously only briefly saw this character twice before and then he was just there and the reason was merely to serve as a plot device to a reveal that was made. It came across to me as lazy storytelling and really left a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, I thought this was a captivating and enthralling read that I think so many people will enjoy. Serpent & Dove is also Mahurin’s debut novel so I’m really looking forward to what she is able to do with Blood & Honey, the second book in this series (duology?). Both of these books also have the most gorgeous covers that deserve to be displayed on any bookshelf.