Serpent and Dove is the story about Lou and Reid, a witch and a witch hunter, who find themselves married to each other due to a series of bad circumstances.
Shelby Mahurin’s world is a fictional version of France during the time of witch trials, witch burnings and oppressive religion. She borrows from French history to make her own world more real and terrifying. Personally I don’t know much about French history so I don’t know how much she fictional or real, but Mahurin was able to enterwine the two together so flawlessly that I felt that I was in a unique fantasy world.
The novel is told in the alternating first person point of views of Lou and Reid. Mahurin was able to give them a distinct voice which is nice because if you’re like me you ignore title headings and the person speaking. Lou is like a cat, feisty and scared. Reid on the other hand is like a dog, fiercely loyal to a fault but willing to protect those he loves. Given that, making a cat and a dog live together and result in very amusing circumstances and narratives.
I was pleasantly surprised how attached I found myself to all the characters, especially Coco and Ansel! Ansel in particular is so precious and if anything happens to him I will die.
The overall fantasy aspect of it isn’t anything overly special. However, the magic system in particular is something I’ve never encounter before. I still don’t quite understand it, but to use magic Lou had to give up memories, whether her own and someone else’s (which she would have to take away from them). It reminded me of Full Metal Alchemist system of equal give equal take. Another really fascinating thing about Serpent & Dove was how important religion is in the world. Most fantasy novel don’t really explore religion in the world or how it can influence society. The religion in Serpent & Dove is familiar to (correct me if I’m wrong for I’m not religious) Christianity where women are seen a devilish because they allure men into sinful deeds. It was too real and I found myself becoming very angry when the men in Chasseur Tower opened their mouth, in particular the Archbishop.
This debut novel by Mahurin was fun and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good hate to love troupe that doesn’t overpower the main plot line in a fantasy novel! I look forward to reading the sequel!