Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

May 20, 2019

“Wicked are the ways of women — and especially a witch”

Serpent & Dove is set in a 17th Century French-inspired landscape. It deals with a war between witches and the Church. The story focuses on a witch, Lou and a witch hunter, Reid, who are forced into marriage. Serpent & Dove was a surprising read and the evolution throughout the book was insane. This is not AT ALL where I thought the story was going but, DID I ENJOY IT ? YES MA’AM. Shelby Mahurin created a very compelling world with a great magic system (and I would love to learn more about it). I liked her writing style, clear and eloquent. I felt completely immersed in the story (you know that feeling when you read and it’s basically like a movie is playing in your head and you forget you’re reading ? Yeah, that’s how good it was.) I loved the use of French vocabulary (and insults. Lots of them.  French is my native language and I can attest that the insults were on point.)

The characters :

Lou : she’s provocative and sarcasm is her second language. Lou was An Absolute Icon during the entire book. She’s cunning and witty while having a heart of gold. Lou is also a survivor and most of her choices are rooted in her past trauma and childhood (which we get to learn about, I’m not spoiling but it’s gOOd). I really enjoyed seeing her arc and progression.

Reid : he was such an interesting character because even though he’s a religious “by-the-book” witch hunter, he also gave off a bit of a bad boyish vibe which I think was accentuated when he became more comfortable around Lou. I liked his moral compass and how he came to question his beliefs.

Coco : I enjoyed Coco’s storyline very much and the lengths she was willing to go to help Lou. Girls supporting girls. It’s all I need.

Ansel : you know what, I’m gonna say something I never say because it makes me internally cringe but I’ll make an exception. Ansel is A True Cinnamon Roll and I don’t take any form of criticism. His silent acceptance of Lou and his affection for her was so heartwarming and beautiful.

The Relationships :

The Hate-To-Love Trope aka Reid and Lou : I’m sold, what else can I say ? There’s just something about two characters from opposite sides, with different beliefs, developing feelings for each other and become willing to question the system they were raised in and become mentally independent from what was essentially drilled into their brains. I just love it. Lou and Reid are the dynamic duo I deserved.

The Themes :

“Your god hates women. We were an afterthought.” “That isn’t true.” I finally turned to face him. “Isn’t it ? I read your Bible. As your wife, am I not considered your property ? Do you not have the legal right to do whatever you please with me ?”

The place of the Church in defining women’s role in society : witches are rejected in this society but more than witches, women are looked at as the ultimate sinners and temptress. Most of the choices made by the witches are…. somewhat questionable. However, I was still rooting for them, which leads me to my second point and major theme.

“Maiden, Mother, and Crone,” I murmured. He nodded approvingly, and warm satisfaction spread through me. “An embodiment of femininity in the cycle of birth, life, and death… among other things. ’Tis blasphemous, of course.” He scoffed and shook his head. “As if God could be a woman.”

Claiming back the power : this war is mainly between the witches and the royal family but with that comes the power of the Church and its influences. The witches want revenge but they also want their land back, which were taken away from them. I liked the fact that there was history there and Lou wasn’t the cause of this war. She unfortunately was a catalyst, inadvertently. She was forced to play a part in a war that wasn’t hers. So in a way, I think it’s also about Lou claiming back her power and her identity.

These are my thoughts regarding Serpent and Dove . I really enjoyed it, more than I thought I would and it was a true pleasure to discover Shelby Mahurin’s writing. I strongly suggest you listen to God Is A Woman by Ariana Grande and Take Me To Church by Hozier while reading this book because I did and for some reason, it was PERFECTION.

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