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Book Review: Serpent & Dove (Book 1) by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and Dove

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Harper Teen, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Romance/Historical Fiction

Plot: Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

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.

Opinion:

 

My throat is weeping.

Not tears. Something thicker, darker. Something that bathes my skin in scarlet, streams down my chest and soaks my hair, my dress, my hands. My hands. They scrabble at the source, fingers probing, searching, choking-desperate to stem the flow, desperate to make it stop, stop stop-”

Oh.

My.

Cauldron.

Boil me down to sludge and shove me in a bottle, for I think I just died.

My soul is lifeless in this vessel I call a body.

The blood along with every trace of fluid, tissue and muscle has left my carcass.

My heart has been ripped from my chest out through my throat, leaving a trail of murmured affection and promises of protection that dissipated into the wind as soon as it unwillingly passed my lips.

My rib cage has contracted, folding in on itself due to the empty void that now echoes through it.

I am crumbling.

Decaying into ash.

I’ve never hated reality more.

Serpent & Dove is a book my battered and bruised being has been waiting for since the romance of ACOTAR and TOG decimated the last of my hope in humanity. It slowly glued my sorrowful glass heart back together, lighting my face with smiles and my eyes with mischief. For the first day reading, I was a fiend gripped by the characters and world that Shelby Mahurin enchanted into words. On the second day I was leaking tears and whimpers of love, promises, hope and wistfulness. But now, on the third day…

I was positively enraged by this cliffhanger and the agonizing realization that I will have to wait until SOMETIME in 2020 to know WTF happens!!!


*deep breath*

I am die-hard obsessed with this book. I love it. I breathe it. If possible, I would sew myself into it and never leave. It is FANTASTIC! Sure, maybe it’s the fact that is centers on a feud between church and witches. And yeah, maybe I am biased to my witch sisters. But if you even just read the first chapter of this RIDICULOUS book, you will understand why I am so willing to lay my tortured existence down for these characters and this story.

The church is lead by the Archbishop who is loved among the people and preaches an intolerance of witches, insisting their deaths at the stake is Gods will. The witches, who are hunted down for their abilities and supposed abomination, fight back against the church in random attacks to bring down their royalty. The Chasseurs are sworn to the church and act as witch hunters who are as equally skilled as they are brutal. Any witch, Maiden, Mother or Crone, are put to death. The issues between the church and the witches are DEEPLY rooted, and quite honestly, shocking as hell! There is action, murder, magic, romance and blindsides DRIPPING from the seams of this book.

The premise and roller-coaster ride the author takes you on will be exhausting, so take a deep breath.

Because apart from a FANTASTIC plot, there are INCREDIBLE characters.

And firstly, Louise le Blanc is THE s**t.

She is sassy, crude, sarcastic, arrogant, and devious. She curses up a storm, lives to play tricks on unsuspecting people and screams filthy pub songs like “Big Tiddy Liddy” at the top of her lungs. She is selfish. She is loud and obnoxious. And…I love her. I feel like she COULD be compared to Celaena Sardothien, but that would be a piss-poor comparison and honestly a little offensive. Don’t get me wrong, I love that sadistic assassin. But where Celaena’s arrogance is so strong and practically a turnoff, Lou’s is flawless and incredibly just. She is witty and SO sharp. The retorts and insults that dance off her tongue are enchanting, and her ability to deflect is uncanny. She is gentle yet hardened. Sorrowful yet joyous. She is a BADASS witch who can take down men twice and thrice her size with a few easy movements, and I am beyond impressed. She is a woman who has walked the depths of darkness, but still allows a smirk and grin to dance across her face. She fills me with both unending joy and heartbreaking misery.

“Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from you.”

Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.”

But with Lou, comes Reid. He is Captain of the Chasseurs, and the church and word of the Archbishop is all he has ever known. For him, the word of God is law, and witches are vile inhuman creatures that must be eradicated. So when his life is suddenly bound to Lou’s by holy (or unholy) matrimony, he feels as if his world has shattered. But just when I thought I had Reid pinpointed…he surprised me. He is gentle, kind, sweet, caring and honorable…especially when it comes to this new wife he refers to as a heathen. He isn’t the swaggering, cocky and douchey male lead that we have become accustomed to in YA Fantasy. He is innocent and unsure, but not in a way that makes him weak. He is POSITIVELY swoon-worthy, and you will have such a hard time not comparing every man in real life to him from now on.

“Every aspect of Reid was precise, certain, every color in its proper place. Undiluted by indecision, he saw the world in black and white, suffering non of the messy, charcoal colors in between. The colors of ash and smoke. Of fear and doubt.

The colors of me.”

I have SO much to say about this book, but none of it can be said without be revealing every WONDERFUL piece of information. I felt so many emotions during this read. You know it’s an amazing book when you are constantly yelling out and making strangled noises or cackling into the air of your home. Serpent & Dove had me laughing, crying, yelling obscenities and smiling like an idiot. This book is fantastic.

My only issue is this:

I just want to know the last two verses to “Big Tiddy Liddy”.

5-stars

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Book Review: Smoke and Key by Kelsey Sutton

Smoke and Key

 

Genre: Young Adult/Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Romance

Plot: A sound awakens her. There’s darkness all around. And then she’s falling…

She has no idea who or where she is. Or why she’s dead. The only clue to her identity hangs around her neck: a single rusted key. This is how she and the others receive their names—from whatever belongings they had when they fell out of their graves. Under is a place of dirt and secrets, and Key is determined to discover the truth of her past in order to escape it.

She needs help, but who can she trust? Ribbon seems content in Under, uninterested in finding answers. Doll’s silence hints at deep sorrow, which could be why she doesn’t utter a word. There’s Smoke, the boy with a fierceness that rivals even the living. And Journal, who stays apart from everyone else. Key’s instincts tell her there is something remarkable about each of them, even if she can’t remember why.

Then the murders start; bodies that are burnt to a crisp. After being burned, the dead stay dead. Key is running out of time to discover who she was—and what secret someone is willing to kill to keep hidden—before she becomes the next victim…

Opinion:  

Death, lost love, walking corpses, corsets, propriety, falling from graves, curious momentous and magic.

Finally.

The spooky Historical Romance that your Gothic little heart was searching for.

Smoke and Key was just as beautiful, dark, sorrowful and mysterious as I’d hoped it would be.

Kelsey Sutton is Queen when it comes to ingenious and creatively mind-bending YA plots. She brings fantasy to life and completely astounds me with her imaginative ideas for books. Countdown clocks to death in Gardenia, a book of poetry about a girl living a life of imagination in The Lonely Ones, and a world where emotions take human form in the Some Quiet Place series?!

*Swoon*

But my newest Kelsey Sutton obsession centers on Smoke and Key. It’s an eerie Gothic mystery dripping in fog and Tim Burton tendencies. The story takes place in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and moves between Key’s memories of her life and her time in Under. It is a time when young ladies are thrust into corsets and skirts, where propriety is everything, and when being caught with a member of the opposite sex in public, without a chaperone, is downright scandalous! It is a YA Crimson Peak (without the weirdness) and Corpse Bride mashup, stuffed with romance, murder and magic.

Under is neither heaven nor hell, it is a place in between, or so its inhabitants think. The place is downright creepy, and I was enamored with every moment of it. There is only dirt, cold and corpses in this depressing place and each person who walks its floor possesses the names of the objects they came with: Key, Smoke, Ribbon, Journal, Pocket Watch, Doll. The characters and the world of Under is like a funhouse for the dead. It’s filled with charismatic characters whose flesh and organs are literally decomposing before the readers eyes, and they’re tipping over the Looney Tunes side of the sanity spectrum.

Though there is no clear indication of what age characters like Key, Smoke and Journal are, I would have to guess that they are in their late teens or very early twenties. I found Key to be an absolute dream and am so grateful the author didn’t turn her into an immature wailing female. Key is the picture of poise and manners, even in death, and she comes off as an incredibly strong-willed lady of the dead. Match her up with the brooding, curious and dashingly Gothic Smoke, and we’ve got ourselves the match-up for every bleak black heart out there!

But obviously, the real addiction here is the thrilling ride the reader takes as they begin to uncover what Under is, and how these people got there. As Key’s memories begin to surface, she gets snippets and clues of her life when she was alive. A big house with a girl who calls her sister, a boy in a library, and American with an infectious grin and a knack for fighting. Each memory brings Key closer to learning about herself and how she died, but it also brings her closer to the dark side of her life.

This book brought out so many emotions in me while I was reading. Sadness, longing, excitement, disgust, curiosity. I LOVE the world this author created and the characters that fill its pages. It was so different from every YA Fantasy story currently out right now, and it is bound to be a favorite if you love a Gothic tale with magic. I devoured every page and am still hopelessly looking for more…*sigh*.

I’m going to be looking at cemeteries with longing in my eyes now.

 

5-stars

 

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