Mahurin, Shelby. Serpent and Dove. Harper Teen, 2019. 528p. ISBN: 9780062878021. $18.99. OT *****
Set in fictional historical France, Louise le Blanc is on the run. She is a witch, has sworn off her coven, and now lives as a thief, rarely using her magic. While normally her thieving is limited to money and small gems, she and her comrades decide to go for a bigger prize: a magic ring protected in a high security house. During this heist, her path crosses with Reid, the most devout of the Chasseurs – a group of militant and religious police officers, whose motto is, “thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” When Lou and Reid are caught in what appears to be a compromising position, they are given two choices: lose everything, or wed. They choose to marry, but their union is anything but blissful. Lou is headstrong and free spirited, and Reid is extremely devout with a temper to boot. They absolutely detest each other, but ever so slowly begin to trust one another. Trust snowballs into appreciation, friendship, and then a searing romance that is worth the wait.
For an author debut, Serpent & Dove is an extremely strong start. Told from alternating perspectives, both the hero and heroine are extremely likable, despite their very humanizing flaws. Both of their character arcs are satisfying and realistic, for despite their fully-formed (and often times, very strong) opinions, they both find the ability to bend and change. Lou and Reid, along with a colorful cast of side characters, are all well-rounded with motives that are fully flushed out. When it comes to world-building, this book is a breath of fresh air. While rooted in reality, the story creates an immersive experience built by language and setting. The lore has been well thought out as well, giving the reader a glimpse into a world that goes well beyond Lou and Reid’s story. Thematically, the story allows for discussions on religion, family, loyalty, and good and evil, to flourish.
Violence of the normal and magical varieties can be gory at times. Sexual content is present in this story, and for the majority of the book exists as a long-term build up between Lou and Reid. Their romance culminates in an explicit sex scene. This book also features occasional strong language.
Serpent & Dove is the best of what Young Adult Fiction can be. Fans of this book will be eagerly awaiting the second half of this duology. Highly recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses series.
Rebecca Gawronski, Santa Clara County Library – Campbell Library