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.
Title: Serpent and Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
This was a refreshing read for sure! I haven’t read about this type of ballsy female main character in a while.
Sure, you get the general badass female character who can beat up anyone and is broody and antagonistic, but that’s nothing compared to Lou!
She’s snarky and rude and constantly makes lewd comments to unnerve the pious men around her – I definitely laughed out loud at a few of the things she said/sung at them. It makes her feel a hell of a lot more human and real than the standard badass woman. She’s not just a stereotypical man in a woman’s body, she’s a real and flawed, genuine woman in her own right.
The worldbuilding in Serpent and Dove also helped make it feel real: it felt like a world where the Salem Witch trials never ended, but the witches were real! Very cool, and to see it from the perspective of both a devout witch hunter – or ‘Chasseur’ – and a witch – or ‘Dame Blanche’ – felt really unique.
The writing is also really mysterious under all the fun quips and escapades. The writing is peppered with references to a ‘her’ right from the start and figuring out who they were and what they meant to Lou felt really organic as the story moved along. I loved it, as opposed to a story where I can guess the plot twist coming a mile off, it was refreshing. (Yes, that word again!)
In this world there are Dames Blanche and Dames Rouge (and possibly more types I would assume, though these are never mentioned – maybe in later books?) which are two different kinds of witch. The magic system also has a good balance – the Dame Blanche can’t do anything without balance and the Dame Rouge can do anything as long as they pay in blood or use blood in some way. It’s clever and feels very grounded.
I also enjoyed the French phrases littered around the dialogue. It came with enough context so no matter how much French you know you can understand it, while also reminding you that this is a France-like world without hitting you over the head with it. It felt like a nice touch.
And the romance! This I loved. (WARNING and SPOILER: There is a very R-rated, PG-18, however you want to rate it, scene later on in the book, but if you’re not into those you can just skip it and it won’t harm the book much. It was very well-written however so I would recommend.)
The slow burn between Lou and Reid is perfect: not too slow that you’re antsy for them to do something about it, and not too fast in the vein of insta-love. It feels very natural and built out of what they do and how they act with each other as opposed to just looks and shallower things.
The drama and action of the book just made me keep picking it up again and again, and the ending is the perfect amount of resolved that I’m satisfied, while keeping it open to flow into the second book really well. I can’t wait to pick it up and hang out with Lou again!