The definition of a bingeable book.
Name: Serpent & Dove
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Song: Any song by Lou Reed (Get it! Get it!)
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.
Serpent & Dove seems to be one of those books that never dies. Despite being published over two years ago, it drifts back from the limelight for a few months, and then resurfaces again… and again, and again. Because can a book truly die when it’s popular on Booktok? Although, I’m sure all the forced marriage, enemies to lovers and ‘soulmates but hating each kind from birth’ tropes didn’t not help. (Were they the reasons why I bought Serpent & Dove? Possibly… on with the review!)
I had high hopes for a fun, romantic, angsty, enemies to lovers plot with a strong fantasy world but lead by romance… and I’d say it delivered. Except perhaps the fantasy world taking second place – I’d say that world building and romance had pretty much equal attention. This can lead to massive info dumps (*cough From Blood and Ash *cough*) but the author handled providing info really well. And I wanted as much information as possible because I LOVE the magic system. It’s one of the best I’ve ever read: for starters, it’s well thought out and makes sense (there goes 50% of fantasy systems.). The idea is that you have to sacrifice something equal to the magic you’re trying to perform; it’s clever and brilliant and I can see it setting up some heartbreak later in the series.
Next fangirl moment: LOU! She is gorgeous, funny and has a spine, which is always nice to see in female love interests, especially in an enemies to lovers book. Her and Reid had some sweet moments together. However, because so much time was put into building up Lou’s brilliant character, it meant that Reid’s was really lacking. The book had dual narratives, but it was almost not worth having the chapters from Reid’s POV for how few they numbered. I think it would have worked so much better to just be from Lou’s perspective – because it practically was already. Literally all I learned about Reid is that he’s an Angry BoyTM who roars, growls and at one point quite literally punches a wall. The main facts we learn about Reid’s past are from his conversations with Lou, not from flashbacks, and I think it let the romance down. In my head, you either have two strong narrators falling in love, or one POV and a more mysterious love interest because you can’t see their thoughts. The author aimed for the first one but it fell flat and landed in an awkward middle ground.
There were other strong characters. I loved Lou’s friends and how both Reid and Lou had been in love previously. I feel like that doesn’t happen enough in YA romance books – Serpent and Dove never reveals their age, but I assume they’re both teenagers. Also, the writing was of a much higher quality than I expected for this genre. Maybe that’s stereotyping of me, but it was a nice surprise! The writing… had its moments (me and my friends are very divided over what I declare the genius of Big Liddy) and I think it could have done with fewer profanities. They added humour and depth to Lou’s character, to a certain point, but when she says ‘ass’ four times in one page, she needs some other idiosyncrasies.
My last point was how excited I was to have chapter titles (I hear it too, but it was just nice to have titles!). I gave Serpent & Dove 4 stars overall – 5 for the magic system and world building, 4.5 for plot (a bit predictable) and 4 for romance. The whole dynamic of the romance lacked because of Reid’s weak character, and I feel like the characters didn’t act like teenagers over them being married? I get that’s the whole USP of the book, but I don’t think teens would care so much about the core values of matrimony and call their significant other ’my husband’ even in their head. For a solid 300 pages. That’s Lou not mentioning Reid by name for 300 pages, only as ’my husband’. 😩
I loved that it was set in France and it was utterly bingeable. I read most of it in one sitting! I won’t be rushing to read the other books but if I find myslef in a lull, I might look for them. Or they’ll find me – because after all, nothing dies on booktok.
Have you read Serpent and Dove? Would you like to? What are your favourite enemies to lovers books? Let me know in the comments!