Of witches and their hunters…Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review

Of witches and their hunters...Serpent & Dove, written by Shelby Mahurin | ARC review
Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin

Serpent and dove by Shelby Mahurin

Publication date: September 3rd, 2019 
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 528
Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Buy:Book Depository | Wordery

Synopsis:

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.

– My Thoughts –

“Wicked are the ways of women — and especially a witch”

I first read Serpent & Dove as an eARC and I was mesmerized by the way the author combined some of my favourite tropes – enemies to lovers romance, Marriage of Convenience – to create a wonderful fantasy set against the backdrop of 17th century France. 

After I got the physical ARC, I read it again and here are my final thoughts…

In the land of Belterra, witches are burned at the stake and the witch hunters or the Chasseurs along with their leader, the Archbishop are ruthless. Lou, a witch, has left her coven two years ago and is now trying to survive in the city of Cesarine either by lying, stealing or even killing. After remaining undetected for two years, a burglary goes wrong and it sets her past enemies after her. When Lou ends up in a “compromising” position with Captain (of the Chasseurs) Reid, the Archbishop comes up with a solution: go to prison for the rest of her life or marry Reid.

“Conscious of the Chasseurs’ eyes on me, I forced a smirk and bumped my husband’s hip, pretending that it’d all been a show. A laugh. That I’d just been goading him to get a reaction.

That I wasn’t a witch in Mass, standing amongst my enemies and worshipping someone else’s god.

Lou agrees to marry Reid, a witch-hunter, as he can also offer protection from those who are hunting her. Reid, despite his initial scorn towards Lou, agrees to marry her and protect her. 

It was fun seeing the progression of their relationship; their good-natured bickering and Reid slowly welcoming Lou into his life. This slow-burning romance climaxed into an explicit sex scene which made me wonder why it was categorized as YA. The characters act mature enough and the themes justify this book to be placed under NA rather than YA.

There wasn’t much world-building to speak of and this is what I missed during my first read. Sure, the writing is magical and so is the romance; there are well-placed plot twists and lots of well-timed action that made this book very addictive. However, it could have been more magical if there was good world-building at play. The magical system was very unique; some witches used blood while others offered some sort of sacrifice in exchange for using magic. Since this is the first book in a series, I have high hopes that the world is going to expand and we’re going to get a deeper look into the world of Lou and Reid.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book if you love enemies to lovers, slow-burn and marriage of convenience tropes; fantasy about witches set in 17th century France, smartass and badass female characters, amazing female friendships, morally grey characters, an intricate magical system, and engaging writing.

Thanks to the publisher for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

– About the Author –

Shelby Mahurin

Shelby Mahurin grew up on a small farm in rural Indiana, where sticks became wands and cows became dragons. Her rampant imagination didn’t fade with age, so she continues to play make-believe every day—with words now instead of cows. When not writing, Shelby watches the Office and obsesses over her Twitter feed. She still lives near that childhood farm with her very tall husband, semi-feral toddlers, two dogs, and one cat. 

Shelby’s favorite books include A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and, of course, Harry Potter.

Her debut novel, SERPENT & DOVE, will release from Harper Teen in Fall 2019, with a sequel to come the following year. She is represented by Sarah Landis of Sterling Lord Literistic.

For more about Shelby, visit her website and her Goodreads page, or follow her on Twitter.

Thank you for reading! Have you read Serpent & Dove? Is it on your wish-list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

The Familiars by Stacey Halls: A hauntingly beautiful tale of women and witchcraft

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

The Priory of the Orange Tree Goodreads cover
Cover ( Goodreads)
Buy it on Wordery | Book Depository||Add it on Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

The Priory of The Orange Tree summary
Photo credit : mine

Why is THE FAMILIARS more than a story about witches? | REVIEW

“Neighbours denouncing neighbours—it was the most reliable trait of humanity and was how the dungeon was filled in the first place. Rumour could spread faster than a disease, and could be just as destructive.” 

– The Familiars by Stacey Halls

The Familiars is set during the Pendle Witch trials of 1612 and tells the story of two women – Fleetwood Shuttleworth and Alice Gray. Fleetwood Shuttleworth is the 17 years old mistress of Gawthorpe Hall. After surviving three miscarriages, she is pregnant for the fourth time which worries both her and her husband for different reasons.

One day, Fleetwood discovers a young woman in a forest on her property and Fleetwood learns her name is Alice Gray. Alice claims to be a midwife and promises to help Fleetwood give birth to a healthy child. Soon, Fleetwood begins to better in the hands of Alice and a friendship of sorts develops between the two.

However, problems arise soon as King James is on a witch hunt. Those who are loyal to his Majesty will do anything to appease him: even accuse innocent women of witchcraft. Many women near Pendle Hill, where Fleetwood stays, have already been convicted of being a “witch” by none other than someone very close to her. It isn’t long until this witch hunt directs its attention to none other than Alice Gray.

“Her spirit was there. He could see it, I know. After his death, she was brought to my father’s corpse and it bled at her touch.”

What does the name The Familiars mean ? It was believed that a familiar is an animal that is close to a witch who does certain things for the witch. They can act as protectors, spies, a type of servant or, most often, a close companion. If you see one, you most often will see the other because they rarely are separated.

The Truth is we don’t if any of the accused women were actually witches, there’s no proof of that in history or in this fiction. However, I urge you to pick up this book because the scenario is eerily similar to what women face these days. This book will fill you with rage, watching men do whatever it takes to gain power. However, I loved this historical fiction – based on a real story – where we see a woman who is willing to fight for her child and her friend. Fleetwood transforms right before our eyes and in spite of her social standing, Fleetwood goes above and beyond to help not only Alice but all the women accused of witchcraft. 

Why will I not give this 5 stars? In my opinion, I learned and saw much of Fleetwood and not enough of Alice. I think, maybe, that was the point. Alice was a quiet but constant presence at Fleetwood’s side. With her care and friendship, Fleetwood gained the confidence to stand up for herself and others. Another thing that irked me was how quick Fleetwood was to forgive a certain someone. Again, this is my opinion. It was 1612 after all and I am no one to judge.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel if you’re a fan of historical fiction, witches, and stories that celebrate friendship and women. I’ve become a fan of Stacey Hall’s writing and I can’t wait to read more of her works. If it’s anything remotely like The Familiars, then I’ll make a mad dash to my nearest bookstore or uhh..book depository.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 glowing stars.

Author: Connect with Author Stacey Halls here .

  • Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre/HarperCollins IN
  • Publication Date: 07 Feb 2019
  • Paperback(ARC): 420 Pages

Have you read The Familiars yet? If you haven’t, do you think you’ll read it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

#HorrorOctoberBooks: The Witch Of Willow Hall (audiobook review )

Synopsis: Years after the Salem witch trials one witch remains. She just doesn’t know it… yet.

Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…

1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.

But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.

Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?

Continue reading “#HorrorOctoberBooks: The Witch Of Willow Hall (audiobook review )”