Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin – ⭐⭐⭐
Recommended: for specific people if you’re REALLY interested in this
For those really into witchy stuff, for those who want the “hate to love” romance arc, for a story focused on self-discovery. Stay away if you’re expecting the historical French setting to actually matter or importance in featuring the magic
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.
So. As often with crazily hyped books… I wasn’t that impressed. I probably would have waited even longer to read this, but it was a thoughtful gift for Christmas and I was intrigued. In the end this was nearly a 2 star read overall, but a key element of the end bumped it to 3 and made it more likely that I would pick up the next, though not in a hurry. The overall path of reading was like: 4,5,3,2,2,2,3 (that new-read excitement got me hard on this one but helped carry me through).
My gripes are with the romance and the magic. The romance felt abrupt, as the characters only have a few interactions before they’re declaring their newfound feelings, and the interactions they had were mostly antagonistic. I can get behind the enemies-to-lovers thing, but I just wasn’t wooed by their progression in this case.
When I say I had an issue with the magic, it’s primarily that there wasn’t enough of it. I came into this expecting a vamped up witchy playground, but instead our MC is repeatedly saying how she’s terrible at using her magic and has let herself slip so much. That was pretty underwhelming, even considering the moments where she uses her powers to great success.
There were some really touching moments of self-discovery and self-reflection, and I loved the way the characters learned about themselves through learning about each other. But ultimately, it felt fairly weakly developed. Neither of the MCs were my favorite character, which I think says a lot about my thoughts on them both. The humour often didn’t land for me, and the MCs over-the-top defensive uses of it grew tedious pretty quickly.
When it comes down to it, I’m not really sure what I was reading for most of the time. My recollection is that there wasn’t much substance, and yet it was over 500 pages. Why??
I did quite enjoy the world and the lore and rules of magic, which is what kept me going, but I wanted more of that. Ultimately the only real reason I finished this (after putting it down for a few weeks and trying to regain interest for the climax) was a vague obligation to the person who gifted it to me.
Also really not a fan of MCs name ‘Lou.’ Personal issue, but one that did detract for me. And “Diggory” was just distracting — Cedric, hello??
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