Serpent and Dove | Review

☾ about the book

Title: Serpent and Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Series: Serpent and Dove
Published: 2019
Format: hardcover, novel
Pages: 512
Rating: ★★★★.5
Trigger Warnings: intense violence, cutting and self harm, sex (vague descriptions), physical abuse/assult, blood/gore, sexism

☾ the synopsis

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.
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.

☾ the characters

Reid Diggory is a Chasseur – a witch hunter in the name of god.
He was abandobed by his mother as a baby and raised by the Archbishop of Cesarine to protect its population from the witches.
He agrees to enter holy matrimony with Lou, a woman he doesn’t understand, in order to protect his position among his brothers.

Lou fled from the Chateau where the coven of the Dame Blanches reside and fled to Cesarine, where she hides her identity as a witch, lives on the attic of a theater and tries to not get caught.
But her life turns around when she is caught stealing Angelica’s ring, a magic relic of her kind and forced to marry Reid Diggory to avoid being imprisoned.
Now, as she begins to fall for him, Lou must hide her secrets and be even more careful.

☾ the magic system

In the world, of Serpent and Dove, there are two covens – the Dame Blanches and the Dame Rouges.
The Dame blanches see magic in patterns and trade things for magic – an eye for an eye, and so on.
The Dames Rouges are blood witches. Their magic lives in their blood, and in order to use it, they must extract their own blood for their rituals.
Magic comes with a scent that normal people can smell, and it is what usually alerts the Chasseurs, a group of men trained by the church to protect the innocent from the witches.
Angelica’s ring is an ancient relic that belonged to Lou’s ancestor, a witch named Angelica. It can grant different powers, such as invisibility, if you place it in your mouth.

☾ the world building

The book is set in 15th century France.
Witches walk among people, and they must be burned, no matter the cost.
In Cesarine, this is done by the Chasseurs.
But soon, the Dames Blanches seem to out-do the Chasseurs in numbers as they prepare to sacrifice one of their kind to topple the Archbishop and the ruling king.

☾ what i liked about this book

I loved the setting.
It reminded me of classic fairytales, like Beauty and the Beast, or stories like Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo.
I also loved Lou – as a practicing pagan – or “heathen” as Reid would say – I saw a lot of myself in her.
Lou is an insanely humorous character, and you can tell she doesn’t need Reid for anything. She’s very independent, and I enjoyed reading about her very much.
The concept of the two different covens and the way magic can be wielded by each of them was very interesting as well.

☾ what i didn’t like about this book

This is a very personal thing, but I just cannot stand people who follow Christianity and rub their beliefs in other people’s faces like the Chasseurs and the Archbishop do in this book.
All this bible talk and ‘witches must burn’ part was very hard for me to read, and it is the only reason why I did not give this book five stars.
Other than that, it took me a very long time to warm up to Reid – damn, he really had a stick up his ass for about at least 3/4s of the book and I could not understand why people ship him and Lou for the most part.
Don’t even get me started on the Archbishop – what a hypocrite!

☾ should you read this book?

I definitely recommend this book if you haven’t already.
Again, if you like Beauty and the beast or The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, you will enjoy this book, and if you like witches, that’s even better.
I was very apprehensive about starting to read this book because I heard people making comments about how it’s fat-and transphobic and also racist.
Yes, Mahurin uses the word “ebony” to describe a character’s skin color, but I could not find any evidence of trans- and fatphobic content – I cannot speak for the trans community, but as a plus size woman, I would have noticed the fatphobia.
However, the contents are sexist, even mysogynistic. The witches in this book are being refered to as “it” and are of course, potrayed as the villains in this story.
That being said, it is important that we keep in mind that we live in the 20th century, and this book is set during the medieval ages, where the role of a woman was dictated by the church and religion played a big part in people’s lives – we simply cannot compare it to the way we live today.

Have you read Serpent and Dove? What are your thoughts? Be sure to keep them spoiler free!
Also, are you looking forward to the release of Blood and Honey?

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