book reviews

Serpent & Dove

Shelby Mahurin

It was only a matter of time until I finally read Serpent & Dove to see for myself what all the hype was about. I couldn’t scroll through twitter or look up fantasy books without this title popping up, so I just had to know. I’ll admit, I am easily persuaded by what I see online and eventually the book finally made it’s way into my hands.

Now, this read was very special for me because it was my FIRST EVER AUDIOBOOK that I have listened to all the way through. I’ve tried before but it is so hard for me to concentrate while not following along and my mind usually ends up wandering, but I have finally figured out what works for me. I listened to the whole book while going on my daily walks and I loved it!

Okay, enough of me let’s get to the book! For listening rather than reading I think I enjoyed Serpent & Dove though I have a feeling I might have enjoyed it more if I were to have read a hard copy. Once the story picked up I got really into it and my hour-long walks flew by. I especially appreciated listening to the audiobook when all the French words and names were spoken aloud because I know if I had been reading it myself my mind would have completely butchered the pronunciation.

All I knew going in to this book (from Tiktok (LOL) and Twitter) was that it was “smutty” and was often listed along with Sarah J. Maas’ books. That is to say that there was romance, a classic enemies-to-lovers story, and how could I not want to read that? After finishing the book though I didn’t find the romance to be anything particularly special or intense like what I saw online made it out to be (although there is some good tension and some steamy parts). I do think the comparison, or maybe association is a better word, to Maas’ books is fair and I can see reader’s of her books enjoying Mahurin’s book as well.

I liked the French-fantasy setting and the world of religion and witches and magic is well written and fully developed in the book. I did feel like the pacing was a little off as it seemed particularly rushed in the second half of the novel, but that wasn’t something that was too off-putting. There were quite a few plot twists and revelations in the book, and there were several points in the book where I was a little lost and couldn’t keep up with all the connections that were being made, though that might have been just a me-listening-to-an-audiobook-for-the-first-time problem.

Lou and Reid are solid characters and I liked them despite knowing that I have seen the same characters in different novels with different names so many times before. But, hey, it works and I still like it so I’m not complaining. Lou is the typical badass leading lady with a tragic backstory who is independent and has somewhat of a dark side. Reid is the protector and the moral compass who can’t help but convictions and his life turned upside down by Lou. They have a slow-burn relationship and I’m a sucker for it, as I always will be.

I give Serpent & Dove four stars. At first I was convinced it was a three star book since I finished it without feeling any significant impact to my emotional state, but the more I thought about the more I decided it deserved an extra star. If for nothing else, I suspect I would have enjoyed it a four star amount if had I read it instead of listened to it (sorry audiobooks, it’s just not the same). The romance was good, the fantasy world was intriguing, and, as a bonus, it’s the first book in a series. It’s definitely more adult fantasy than YA, though the line between the two, especially for this book, I think is very blurred, so if you’re a fan of those give this book a read (or a listen!) because I think you could enjoy it!

The sequel to Serpent & Dove, Blood & Honey, comes out September 1, 2020.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read Serpent & Dove? Tell me what you thought about it in the comments!

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