Here we go! First new, new books in a while. Or at least relatively new. Today is probably going to be a lot of reviews. Not going to lie. Fair warning. I have a lot of books to cover and content to get through. Plus with next month and the month after for dragons. I’m going to have copious amounts of reviews. January is probably going to be a down month for reading numbers if we are being honest.
Who knows though. Who knows.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin
Synopsis From The Book
Sorrow Ventaxis has won the election, and in the process lost everything…
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.
As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation—marriage.
Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Let’s talk how excited I was for this book: hella excited. I almost cried when I saw it in the book box. I wanted to read this so much just from the premise and from the cover. I suppose I just like witches that much, or perhaps it is the fact that I love tense arranged/faked marriage plots. Who knows? All I know is that this version is beautiful, the book is thick, and I am ready.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
AHHH How good. I’m so happy I read this book. Whatever reading slump I was in for the last week is completely over. I cried. I laughed. I smiled. I got furious. This book was great. As always, why rate a book for anything other that pure subjective value for entertainment? 5/5. On objective value where I don’t rate books on my system? 3/5. Anyway! On to WHY I loved this book so much. And why I HATED it.
Lou needs to get a magic ring that will hid her from her mother. Along with her friend Coco, she learns the location of the ring by listening in the conversation at a brothel. She and Coco, along with her friend Bas, go to steal the ring. While there, they run into the witch hunters, the Chasseurs, who aim to capture them. Lou escapes, but is almost killed by two men who try to take the loot she stole.
Reid is a Chasseur who saw Lou’s face, while she was stealing the ring and earlier in the day, when there was a strike on the king’s life. The next day, he runs into her at a play and tries to apprehend her. They struggle and Lou ends up making it look like he assaulted her. They are forced into marriage and thus begins the fake out.
For weeks, the two have to learn to tolerate each other. Coco, who escaped the night of the heist, finds Lou again. Lou gets a bodyguard named Ansel, when Reid decides he he can’t watch Lou, as a captain. Lou and Reid slowly fall in love with each other.
During a large protest of women, the truth is revealed that Lou is the daughter of her mother (queen of the witches) and the Archbishop. Her death is the way to end the line of the kings (dark magic). A fight breaks out and Reid finds out that Lou is a witch, and Lou then is captured by her mother.
Reid is only betrayed by the fact that Lou never told him, though he does still love her. With Coco and Ansel, he gains the help of his long lost mother (who is named Madame Labelle) and the Crown Prince, to save Lou. Reid also discovers that he is the Crown Prince Beau’s half brother. Lou meanwhile is taken home and finds out that her mother has captured her father as well.
The five make their way into the Witch’s strong hold and try to save Lou. Madame Labelle is stabbed, and Reid goes nuts. Then Lou is killed and Reid’s mind breaks. In that moment he awakens his magic and he is able to kill Lou’s father, the Archbishop, to save her. The Chasseurs arrive and Reid flees with Lou’s body and Madame Labelle’s. When everyone awakes, it is revealed that men may have the ability for magic unlike what the Witches thought, and now the world is hunting Lou and Reid down. They decide to travel to Coco’s aunt’s coven for protection, a coven that is just as dangerous as Lou’s.
What I Liked:
Lou/Louise; She can murder me if she wants. I’m okay with that. I’m also okay with her sweet talking me into oblivion. Please. Just, ugh. I love her. I love witty characters, one, and I love believable witty characters. That is Lou. I love how she talks and walks and just lives in her world so perfectly. I would die for Lou and kill for her. She should not have to be killed again, and again, please! Let her live and be happy. Thanks.
Coco; I would also die for her. Where as Lou is sassy and witty, Coco is seductive and charming. I love her just as much as Lou and love their dynamic with everything I have. Thank you for existing, Coco, I didn’t know I was missing you from my life.
Reid; I actually find him the perfect balance for the flame that is Lou. Is is rational, to a degree, and baselessly direct. I am thoroughly surprised by the degree that he charmed his way into my heart, but that’s probably because Lou loves him so much so I love him.
Ansel; Cute little baby I must protect!
Other characters; I love their development, and personality. I also like how, for the most part, all the characters fill in with each other in nearly perfect tight little bows. I like the running chains of connections, the patterns, in a book where that is so important for magic.
Romance; I knew this was a romance going in, and it hit me like a train. This book was long, because it spent time developing the connection and the romance of the characters. I will never want anything else. I hope the sequel is just as beautifully complicated.
Dialogue; Yes, there is a lot of cursing, but I thought the banter and humor was great.
Magic system; I like it although I want to learn more. I like the balance aspect, as well as the different types.
History; I liked how this was developed too. Secret histories are always so lovely. Also this is a french inspired book, and that was lovely.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
In some ways, I do wish that this book were just three hundred pages longer and a stand alone epic where everything could have been solved. A duology works, perhaps, but I do not know what more plot there is to work with if this is a trilogy. Please do not let this become a trilogy, and decrease the beautiful epicness of this first book. Despite it’s flaws, I still loved reading it.
Ring; I do wish that for this book that the ring was used more often. Its a plot device that really isn’t used when it really can be. It had a lot of potential for use that isn’t used all the time. Sort of like it was forgotten. I suppose, there should have been more conditions then.
The way minorities are described; Note that throughout the book the characters of color are not described nearly as well as the white characters. We get far more details on their descriptions than we do for the minority colors. Minorities get described mostly by their skin tone and that’s about it.
Pan; The one heavier character in the book was described as “waddling” and I just… can’t. Perhaps, yes, it was the perspective of Reid as he thought this, but I’d still rather not have that word. There are cases when the word could be used to describe how awkwardly one was walking (from lack of balance, or limited movement thanks to constraints, or age), but in this case I felt like it was used as a weight describer and that’s not okay. It just seems wrong.
Feminism; And I think this is what takes the cake. The fact that this is a book about women’s rights, but our main character (who is a witch and thus supposedly pro female) shames another girl, outside of simple jealousy, as well as sex workers, just doesn’t sit well with me.
Plot Convenient things; I said everything fit into a nice tight bow, and in many ways it would have been better if the book were just a bit longer and completed in one go.
Time Taken To Read
3hrs 39min (this book was so long)
The balance between 3/5 and 5/5. If I were going based on my system alone, it would be a 5/5 but unlike some other books that I’ve read that have been problematic, this one’s hype, in my mind, died down after a time which is why I let the score drop.
“I am a God-fearing Christian woman now –” Lou, pg113