Book Review: Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Posted February 4, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

Serpent & Dove

Serpent & Dove

by Shelby Mahurin

Series: Serpent & Dove #1
Publisher: HarperTeen on September 3, 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Target Age Group: Adult, New Adult, Young Adult
Representation: LGBTQIAP+ Character(s)
Content Warnings: Animal Death, Blood, Cursing, Death, Fatphobia, Hate Crime, Kidnapping, Murder, Physical Abuse, Religious Bigotry, Torture, Violence

Rating: ★½

Check out this book on Goodreads or buy the book at

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.




This book is immensely overhyped.  And I just don’t get the appeal.

Okay, so the world building is really good.  You can tell early on that Mahurin has put a lot of time and effort into the magic system and political hierarchy and I would have loved to know a lot more about these things!  This world is ripe for a good witchy story, or an ill-fated adventure.  All that was marvelous.  It was there, haunting in the background, ready to be used and exploited!  But it wasn’t.  Because this is not an adventure book.  It’s a romance.  Alas.

I don’t understand what everyone sees in Louise and Reid.  Both protagonists were exhausting.  Louise was underwhelming, unfocused and unoriginal.  Reid was all over the place with his emotions.  He made dramatic turns when it suited the story, despite the lack of build-up and evidence to lead to these major changes of heart.  I just, bleh.  I couldn’t be bothered to care about either of these characters, so I really couldn’t be bothered to care about their enemies-to-lovers Romeo and Juliet-esque romance story.

There was exactly one good character in this book, and that was Ansel.  Although he was a supporting character, Ansel showed nuance and consistency, as well as being likable. It’s not a complaint strictly about the writing, but neither Lou nor Reid was particularly likable.  Ansel’s decisions and changes of heart were driven by the information he received in the world around him.  He was hesitant and thoughtful and generally undramatic.  I liked him.

Coco had potential, but I don’t feel it really played out.  There were certainly moments where she stole the show.

Some of the writing was a little odd to me.  At times, Mahurin whipped through a scene so fast that we were there and gone in a blink, while at other times, the scenes seemed to writhe on and on and on and on to the point of exhaustion.  Sometimes scenes were general and dialogue driven.  Other times (at least three) she took the time to point out frosting on the tip of someone’s nose or cookie crumbs still dusting their lips.  How someone could go from room to room and not notice that there were still cookie crumbs on their lips – crumbs that are apparently visible from across the room – I don’t know.  It was inconsistent, so it was really difficult to get into the rhythm of the book.  All the way to the end.

This is set in 17th century France, but the language is very modern.  I didn’t even realize it was historical fiction adjacent until I’d finished the book – I thought it was pure fantasy.  Yikes.

So here is the truth, dear reader.

Many people loved Serpent & Dove, but I was bored.  Oh so very bored.  Ansel helped me stagger my way through this extremely popular book, but even his saving grace was not enough to change my mind.  Dear Ansel, I am so sorry you’re in a book this underwhelming.  I wish you much happiness and success in your fictional life, but I will never know the end of your adventures because I simply cannot bring myself to pick up Blood & Honey – I couldn’t be much less interested.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: 1/2
Characters: ★ 1/2
Writing: ★★
Personal Enjoyment: 1/2

1 and a half stars


What was the last super hyped book you read?  Did you enjoy it?  Do you feel it lived up to the hype?  Let me know in the comments!

Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | LibraryThing | The StoryGraph | BookTube


Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 responses to “Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

  1. The “over-hyped” thing happens to me a lot with certain graphic novels. I had to read Red Son for school recently and I was left thinking “this is it?” I still enjoyed it, but I felt myself wondering why people were talking it up the way they were. Also, every time Louis Lane said that she was attracted to Superman but was loyal to her horrible husband I wanted to scream. There are others, that I don’t want to mention because it’s a very unpopular opinion, that I liked but that I didn’t see how they were so awesome that they were supposed to be the best of the best of the industry. It’s hard when a book gets hyped as amazing because then it has to blow most people out of the water for the hype train not to derail and crash in a fiery mess.

    • Amber

      Women in comics have come such a LONG WAY, thank goodness. Lois Lane is pretty cringe sometimes. I agree that sometimes, it’s better not to hear the hype because it sets us up for disappointment. 🙁 I’d rather discover something and LOVE it then pick up something popular and not like it at all. 🙁