Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

by Shelby Mahurin

4.23 of 5 stars 40 ratings • 16 reviews • 90 shelved
Book cover for Serpent & Dove

Bookhype may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Full disclosure.

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove, #1)

by Shelby Mahurin

4.23 of 5 stars 40 ratings • 16 reviews • 90 shelved

An Amazon Best Book of 2019 * New York Times Bestseller * B&N's YA Book Club Pick * Indiebound Bestseller * #6 on the 2019 Kids' Indie Next List

"A brilliant debut, full of everything I love: a sparkling and fully realized heroine, an intricate and deadly system of magic, and a searing romance that kept me reading long into the night. Serpent & Dove is an absolute gem of a book." -Sarah J. Maas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Court of Thorns and Roses series

Bound as one, to love, honor, or burn. Book one of a stunning fantasy trilogy, this tale of witchcraft and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Kendare Blake and Sara Holland.

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.

As a huntsman of the Church, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. But when Lou pulls a wicked stunt, the two are forced into an impossible situation-marriage.

Lou, unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, must make a choice. And love makes fools of us all.

Set in a world of powerful women, dark magic, and off-the-charts romance, book one of this stunning fantasy trilogy will leave readers burning for more.

  • ISBN10 0062878026
  • ISBN13 9780062878021
  • Publish Date 17 October 2019 (first published 3 September 2019)
  • Publish Status Active
  • Publish Country US
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Imprint HarperTeen
  • Format Hardcover
  • Pages 528
  • Language English


Avatar for bloggingwithdragons

I was a little nervous to read Serpent & Dove due to the hype that surrounded the debut novel. I was afraid it would be another over-hyped YA fantasy novel that actually was not any good when I finally got around to reading it. Thankfully, however, that was not the case with Serpent & Dove at all. I was surprised to find a strong-willed heroine who was witty, resourceful, and hilarious, an interesting magic system, and a well-handled romance of the mortal-enemies-forced-into-marriage-by-circumstances-out-of-their-control-trope. The only things lacking for me in this creative, fun novel which takes our own history of witch hunts and burnings at the stake and transforms it into a whole new, fantastical world at war was that it took me a little to get into the novel and figure out what was going on, and the fact that almost everyone in the main cast of characters is secretly related to different, but extremely important people, something that becomes quite stale after it is done so often. I also found the main villain to be a bit of a letdown as well.


Despite these minor downsides, I read half of the book immediately in one sitting. I did struggle quite a bit at first to figure out what was going on in Serpent & Dove in the beginning. I knew that main character Louisa “Lou” and her best friend Coco were thieves and disguised as men, but beyond that, I was confused by the time period, where the world-took place (I’m still not sure about this, but I know the characters speak French), and why the characters were in a brothel. Though I wished a little more about the world had been explained right away, other readers might find the mystery and slower reveal of information enticing. Despite initially considering putting the book down due to my confusion at what was going on, I quickly got swept up in this unique world full of witches and witch-hunts, the interesting magic that involved the use of patterns and equivalent exchange, and mostly, my love for main character Lou, who is quite frankly, a freaking riot.

"'Don't pretend to know me.'

'I know if you aren't swearing or singing about well-endowed barmaids, something is wrong.'"


Lou has been in hiding for years, making a living as a thief, and using her magical witch powers very sparingly to avoid detection. So when she finds herself forced into marriage to a very pious, but attractive witch-hunter named Reid, things go anything but smoothly. But instead of letting her new circumstances get her down, Lou stubbornly rebels. She refuses to buy dresses with the money she is given and has pants tailored for her, sings “Big Tiddy Liddy” to horrify the staunchly religious witch-hunters who don’t even usually marry and are celibate, and investigates a forbidden part of her new home in the Witch-Hunter’s Tower to find out what they are doing against witches. There, she is able to secretly practice her magical abilities to gather strength, for the witch that is hunting her is coming.

"That was the trouble with magic. It was subjective. For every possibility I considered, another witch could consider a hundred different ones. Just as no two minds worked the same, no two witches' magic worked the same. We all saw the world differently."


I really liked how magic is portrayed in Serpent & Dove. Magic lingers in the air as a sickeningly sweet smell, which I thought was very unique. As was the imagery that witches have to use golden cords in the air to manipulate patterns, that each witch actually sees differently. The use of these patterns also require equivalent sacrifices. It was like a mixture of Full Metal Alchemist and the threadwitches of The Witchlands series. What’s more is that the novel presents two different types of witches, ones that use their own blood and combinations of other substances to cast their magic, Dame Rouge, and others that use the magic of their ancestors, Dame Blanche. I really like that Lou and her friend Coco are each different types of witches, so that readers got to see both of these witchcrafts in action. I also enjoyed that they not only used these powers to look out for each other, but also were extremely supportive and protective of one another’s well being and feelings. It was a great portrayal of female friendship between two strong female characters, which I always love to read.

"A witch and a witch hunter bound in holy matrimony. There was only one way such a story could end--a stake and a match. I cursed myself for being so stupid--for allowing myself to get too close."


It wasn’t just the female friendship that was portrayed well, but also the romance. I was a little anxious by how well a debut novelist could pull off a witch and witch-hunter romance, but she does it exceedingly well. Though Reid and Lou are on the opposite sides of a very deadly war, they manage to get to know one another beyond their differences in lifestyles and beliefs, and gain mutual respect for one another over time. So when they do finally fall in love it was well-established and believable. It didn’t happen too slow or too fast in my opinion either, which was a welcome relief in light of so many insta-love young adult books in the market. Plus, Lou and Reid’s banter and their different perspectives, combined with Lou’s infinite sass, and along with the bumps in the road they encounter, made their falling in love a really fun read that I enjoyed. Reid’s past love interest was also fairly well-handled, as she is a fully-rounded character who doesn’t exist solely to torment Reid and Lou with her very existence, unlike in A Promise of Fire.


The only things, other than the rough pacing at the beginning of the novel (which may not even bother some readers), was that ¾ of the way and even further to the ending of Serpent & Dove we find out that two more characters are related to very famous and important people, on top of the one character that we already knew had a famous mother (and later find out has a famous father too, to top it off). It was just a little ridiculous that all of these people with important genes found themselves together and that it was all revealed in such a short period of time. I pictured the Oprah meme, “you get a famous relative! AND YOU get a famous relative!” Like come on, at least spread all the reveals out a bit more if you really have to make all these characters related to the famous and powerful.


The only other gripe that I had was that the main villain of the novel, La Dame des Sorcières, the leader of the White Witches, wasn’t that scary or intimidating. In fact, I felt kind of letdown by her characterization. I expected her to be insane in a I’m-as-sweet-as-sugar-until-you-get-in-my-way kind of way. And I do feel that the author attempted to do exactly that, but it was a misfire. I found the witches in the beginning of the novel in the parade using citizens as meat shields against the witch hunters, or Chaussers as they are known,  more intimidating than their leader, who is also known as Morgane Le Blanc. I also found the Chaussers in their religious zealousness and burning of witches, and the referring to them as “it”s and not “she”s (there are no male witches), pretty intimidating. Perhaps the author will up the ante for La Dame des Sorcières in the sequel to Serpent & Dove, but she certainly didn't unnerve me like her followers did in this novel.


Despite the famous relatives and weak villain, the rest of Serpent & Dove was an extremely strong debut novel, with interesting magic, solid character development, and a promising romance. If you like young adult fantasy, this is the book for you. I needed the sequel to Serpent & Dove like yesterday and I honestly cannot wait to see what else the author writes next.
My Book Review Policy

Avatar for starcrossedreviews

Emma (SCR) 5 of 5 stars
This review was originally posted on Star Crossed Reviews OMG I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I love these two narrators so when I first started listening to this book I was already hooked. If you haven't listened to books by these two then you are seriously missing out! These two make this story even more magical than it already was!

The book is written from 2 POV, Lou and Reid. Lou is read by Saskia and Reid by Holter. I raced through this book. I was absolutely hooked. Lou is very funny and so is Reid without knowing it. This book is full of unexpected love, friendships and magic.

It's addictive and easy to read. It's a light fantasy which focuses on the romance as well as the magic. I liked that there were different types of witches yet the guard were so unaware of the differences. I thought the exchange system was interesting and makes a witch think about if using magic is worthwhile. It shows that everything has consequences.

This book is very well written and thought out. It's surprising that this is Shelby's debut as it reads much more like a seasoned author. I can tell that Shelby is going to be a favourite for m e for years to come. I cannot wait for the next book which is not out until September!

Avatar for tylerrosereads

3.5 stars

I liked this. I'm interested in continuing. Kind of typical of what we are seeing in YA right now but I'm digging it.

Avatar for brittybuhh

Brittany 5 of 5 stars
“I was no one's sacrifice. Not then. Not now. Not ever.”

This book was captivating. Witches versus The Holy seems like a played out, common and old rivalry, but this book makes it come alive again. A simple magic system entwined so well throughout the pages that you forget it is just that, simple magic. There aren’t obscure rules or crazy hidden powers, it’s easy to grasp but so well written that it doesn’t need to be complex to the extreme.

“I've never seen anyone savor anything the way you do everything. You make me feel alive.”

The characters in this book are magical - not just in the sense that most have magic - but meaning that you will fall in love with all of them, even the ones you hate. The character development and relationships built in this book are fantastic and make you feel as if you truly know these people. Plus who could hate a good hate to love trope? Especially one that’s written so well?

“Witches and people alike. One and the same. All innocent. All guilty. All dead.”

I love the undercurrents of moral acceptance in this book. There are many instances of characters coming to terms with the realization that just because they were brought up to see things a certain way, doesn’t mean that way is right. It tests the limits of people’s hearts and shows the truth in that anyone can be good or evil, no matter their background or history, and that people are more complex than what you just see on the surface.

“Our lives reflect our hearts.”

I cannot wait to see how this story further unfolds in the next book!

Avatar for cornerfolds

cornerfolds 5 of 5 stars
Read more of my reviews at!

I saw this book at ALA over the summer... and totally overlooked it. I'm not quite sure why, but Serpent & Dove just didn't catch my interest at all, even after I read the back. When I read it again though, shortly after it was published, I knew I HAD to have it! I've seen a bit of controversy about this one so this review will be a bit long since I want to share some of my own opinions where that's concerned.

Louise is a witch in a world where magic isn't allowed and a witch is not permitted to live. She's also on the run from her coven. With her mother hot on her trail, finds herself accidentally married to a witch hunter, which happens to work in her favor. She spends her days attempting to hide her magic from everyone around her, husband included, while training to defend herself from her coven, should the need arise. She has no intention whatsoever of actually liking her husband who would want her dead if he knew what she really was.

I did not expect to love Louise and Reid as much as I did. Louise is unapologetically crass and is constantly embarrassing her husband and his fellow Chasseurs because of it. At first I wasn't sure if like her, but she definitely grew on me and I loved them as a couple once they finally decided they could tolerate each other.

Reid was also extremely frustrating through much of this book. Having been raised in the Church by the archbishop and trained as a witch hunter from childhood, Reid was undeniably a bigot. I've seen a lot of controversy over this character, but allow me to explain why I didn't hate it. I was raised in the American South surrounded by a lot of extremely bigoted people. (The internet also wasn't widely available in my childhood.) That was what I knew until I left my small town and started exploring the world. While Reid's behaviour was reprehensible, it was understandable because of the environment he was raised in. To me what mattered was that he changed when he was shown that he was wrong.

Like I said, I wasn't sure about these two at first, but they grew on me until I adored them. Their romance was slow and swoon-worthy and I loved how much they grew together! If you're a fan of enemies to lovers, you'll probably enjoy this romance! That being said, the romance does take a turn in the direction of maybe-not-YA towards the end.

This is another point I've seen controversy on and I'll jump on board with that one. The author has insisted that this book is YA despite the sex scene. All I'll say about that is, just because body parts are not named doesn't mean a scene isn't explicit. This sex scene is four pages long and doesn't leave much to the imagination. I was fine with it, but I'm also quite a bit older than the target demographic.

Controversy aside, I absolutely adored this book! I would have liked to know more about the larger world, but the town Serpent & Dove is set in was so well developed, I felt like I could see it. The Chasseurs were terrifying in their single-minded bigotry and I was constantly on edge for the witches. The magic was also fascinating and I loved the different factions of witches. I can't wait to learn more about the blood witches and maybe even others??

There's so much more I could say about this amazing book, but if I keep going this review will be ridiculously long. I loved it! I have the two special editions on their way to my shelves right now and I can't wait to hopefully snag an ARC of book two. I definitely recommend this if you're looking for a witchy romance that leans a bit older and darker.

Avatar for laurieleest

Laurie 5 of 5 stars
Review posted on
Het viel me al een tijdje op, iedere keer dat ik op Amazon kwam zag ik een bepaald boek in mijn aanbevelingen verschijnen. Dit boek was Serpent & Dove van Shelby Mahurin. In januari komt de Nederlandse vertaling uit, maar ik wilde aansluiten bij de Hebban leesclub, dus ik luisterde het boek in het Engels.

Rondom Serpent & Dove hangt een hele hype en wat mij betreft is deze hype terecht. In Serpent & Dove volgen we Louise (Lou) en Reid. Lou is een heks die is gevlucht voor haar roots en haar magie. Reid is een chasseur, een heksenjager die voor de kerk heksen opjaagt en vermoord. Maar dan brengt het lot Lou en Reid samen en moeten ze trouwen. Maar dan beginnen de problemen pas echt, want hoe goed is Lou haar acteerwerk?

Ik besloot dit boek te luisteren en dat was vanaf het begin al een goede keuze. De stad waar Serpent & Dove zich afspeelt is gebaseerd op Parijs en daardoor zijn de namen van personen, munten en andere dingen in dit boek Frans. Dat luistert een stuk fijner dan dat het leest. De voorlezers van het boek passen goed bij het verhaal. Je hebt Holter Graham, die ook de Nevernight trilogie voorleest en Saskia Maarleveld. Ik vond wel dat Saskia Maarleveld haar Frans beter is en zonder Engels accent. Het luisterboek was dus erg fijn en is ook echt een aanrader. Het is zowel op Storytel als op Scribd te vinden.

Door naar het verhaal. Ik vond Lou meteen al een leuk personage. Ze heeft humor, is vaak sarcastisch en zegt wat ze denkt. Dat laatste is niet altijd handig, maar het zorgt toch voor interessante situaties. Aan Reid moest ik heel erg wennen. Hij is nogal stug, maar dat komt ook door zijn functie en opvoeding.

Ik vond het wel even duren voor het plot goed op gang kwam. Echter, toen het eenmaal op gang was gekomen, zat ik er meteen helemaal in en wilde ik niet stoppen met luisteren. Helaas moest dat wel, want er moest ook gewoon gewerkt worden en dat soort dingen. Er gebeurt in eerste instantie niet veel, althans, zo lijkt het. Hoewel Serpent & Dove pas bij het tweede deel echt goed op stoom kwam blijken de eerdere gebeurtenissen toch een belangrijke rol te spelen in het verhaal. Langzaam maar zeker leer je meer over de personages en gaan er puzzelstukjes op hun plaats vallen.

En dan even over dat einde. Als je je boek letterlijk met "shit" eindigt, dan weet je als auteur toch dat je lezers het volgende deel nodig hebben? Dit is het geval met Serpent & Dove, want dit verhaal is nog niet afgelopen. Ik gok erop dat het vervolg, en meteen ook het laatste deel, in 2020 verschijnt. Ik ben heel benieuwd waarom dit deel eindigde met "shit", maar ik ben bang dat we nog even geduld moeten hebben. Het is een hele tijd geleden dat ik het eens was met een gehyped boek, maar Serpent & Dove is die hype absoluut waard.
This review was originally posted on Laurie's Bookshelf