Reptile & Bird: A Serpent & Dove Review
Its been a few days without a review because I've been knee deep in those lack luster ARCs that I choose not to review on here. Ha. Yes thats throwing shade but lucky for you all you'll never know the targets! HA! When I'm good I'm good.
Anywho! Serpent & Dove is the first book I've read this month that isn't a new release and I read for pleasure. Obviously you wanna read things as they come out and I'm struggling to find time to even do that. But I read this with my fantasy book club and man.... I've got a lot to say! So lets dive in!
So Serpent & Dove (I'm gonna get real tired of backspacing cause I think and looks funny in this title...) is author Shelby Mahurin's debut novel. And the first thing I will say about this book.... is it did not read like a debut at all. This book was so extremely well thought through that it was as if Mahurin had a bazillion books published and was a Stephen King wannabe. This story had a large opportunity to read extremely tropey but the author put so much care into the construction of the story that I was blown away and could care less about the said trope. Authors can either bring the story full circle like Mahurin did and have the story feel complete and meaningful... Or they can make me feel like everything they attempted to create and feed me is utter bullshit cause 'Oh man they were meant for each other from the beginning it was destiny....' in which I roll my eyes and literally put down the book for twenty minutes and contemplated all the ways the book could have gone ANY other way. But hands down Mahurin did a phenomenal job of producing a story line that fits and works in a way that truly feels purposeful versus oh wouldn't it be cute and I applaud that entirely because it is definitely not easily done at all.
Another amazing thing about this book and its story is the magic system that is created and used. I am all about different types of magic in characters and their abilities being based on their coven/tribe or whatever. And this book we see a variety of witches that can do a variety of different things and I love that. I love that Coco is a blood witch and must have a blood to do any sort of conjuring and I love the Lou is ruled by an equal trade magic. Literally all my favorite reads lately involve magics that are earned or are sacrificed based magic because there's obvious thought versus frivolous use. Another point of this is the concept of bringing the very realistic argument of magic versus religion into the picture. And the idea of the Chassuears being basically the witch police and destroying anything that can be linked to that realm. I will talk more about that as I reach the character section of this but... I loved the links/secrets that developed within the church and the tower. I always appreciate when an author can bring out the negatives on both sides of the conflict in a book so there isn't a good and evil but two morally grey groups that both need repair. I have always been drawn to morally grey characters in general so the overall concept of this read really stuck home with me.
My last topic is the characters in this book because if I go much further I'm going to be saying spoilers and I want everyone to put up this book and read it... But I also want everyone to read this blog. Ha all the problems. SO! I will be making a Booktube talking about this book where I can rant about it in a month or so when this book has been out for a little longer and we have more info about the sequel.... cause then I won't feel so bad.
But characters wise.... its been a while since I've read so many books with characters that really resonate with me... Between Bring Me Their Hearts and Serpent & Dove.... my heart is literally overflowing with love and admiration for imaginary people who I will never meet. Reid is literally the most wholesome and naive man I've ever had the pleasure to read about and the way Lou pulls him and pushes him and changes his basic ideology is so heart strikingly beautiful that I struggle for words. And Lou's ability to see the world from both side of the coin is such a heroic quality that I know she's destined for great things. Lou through the whole book goes back and forth on the world around her and the evils from both her people and those who would murder her on site. And this all ties back into the complexity of the plot because Mahurin has given even the minor characters in this book so many layer and so much rich history that you learn things about them in the simplest of ways. Characters like Coco and Madame Labelle who come and go through the book have their own pasts that tie into the overall plot of the story and being able to hold develop so many points of interest is a skill some authors work their entire career to master and Mahurin has come right out of the gate with it. And that is mind blowing.
I gave Serpent & Dove five stars because as a debut I cannot handle the level of creativity and the level of dedication Mahurin gives this work. That alone was enough to give it the rating but... to add great characters on top of a wonderful magic system linked to the fabulous plot it all comes together to assemble something truly stunning. I highly recommend this read to anyone and everyone who loves a good fantasy read. Hands down.
These pages take me places and I cannot wait to see where I go next!
All my love!