“Serpent & Dove” is the debut fantasy novel by American author Shelby Mahurin and the first in the trilogy, the other ones being Blood & Honey and Gods & Monsters.
Quick Summary: Louise “Lou” le Blanc is a witch on the run from her dangerous past. She unexpectedly marries Reid Diggory, a dedicated witch-hunter. Amid secrets, love, and betrayals, they confront their contrasting worlds, revealing shocking truths and unexpected alliances.
Serpent & Dove Full Summary
Louise le Blanc, or “Lou,” is a witch who ran away from her witch mom Morgane. Mom wanted to use Lou as a sacrifice to take back control of their kingdom, Belterra, from the royal family. Lou decides, “Nah, not happening,” and escapes to a city called Cesarine.
She lives a tough life there, stealing stuff and trying to stay low-key so nobody finds out she’s a witch.
Now, witches are super unpopular in this place because there’s a church-run squad called the Chasseurs, led by Reid Diggory, who are basically witch-hunters. They’re the equivalent of a supernatural SWAT team, and they’re after witches big-time.
Lou’s trying to steal a magical ring that can protect her from her crazy mom. During the heist, she and her friends Coco and Bas get caught by the Chasseurs, but she manages to escape.
Oh, and Coco is a different type of witch who uses blood magic, which is kinda cool but also very taboo.
Now, here’s the funny part: Reid and Lou are forced to get married.
Yeah, I know, awkward, right?
They end up married because Reid tries to arrest her during a theater performance, they both tumble onto the stage, and people think Reid is abusing her.
To save face, the church is like, “Why don’t you two just get hitched?”
So, they’re living in this cathedral, Reid has no clue Lou is a witch, and they’re kind of dancing around each other trying to figure each other out.
Lou has to pull some strings to save her friend Bas, who gets captured by the Chasseurs, and Reid begins to suspect that maybe Lou’s not as innocent as she seems.
Slowly but surely, Lou and Reid start falling for each other. They’re doing couple-y stuff, going out, enjoying theater plays, and they even share their first real kiss and get closer emotionally and physically. But Lou still can’t come clean about her witchy identity.
Finally, everything starts to hit the fan. Lou’s mom, Morgane, shows up in the city. She’s in a theater troupe play that reveals she had a child with the Archbishop, who is Reid’s boss.
And guess what?
The Archbishop is Lou’s dad! Wild, right?
This sets off a chain of events. Morgane captures Lou, and Reid realizes he’s got to save her.
Reid forms a rescue team and goes after her. During the showdown, Lou gets critically injured, and Reid figures out that he can save her by killing his boss, the Archbishop.
He does it, and Lou is saved.
At the end of the book, everyone’s basically a fugitive. Reid, Lou, and their friends have to go on the run, and they decide to split up.
Half of them go to talk sense into the king, and the other half are off to find Coco’s aunt, a powerful witch, who has promised to protect them.
1. The Complexity of Identity and Loyalty
At the core of the book is the concept of identity, both personal and communal.
Lou, as a witch in hiding, constantly grapples with her sense of self. She’s torn between her heritage as a witch and her desire for a life free from her mother’s tyranny.
Similarly, Reid faces a transformative realization about his parentage and a re-evaluation of his deeply held beliefs about witches. From their journeys, we can learn about the fluidity of identity.
It’s essential to recognize that our backgrounds, affiliations, and beliefs can be multi-dimensional and sometimes conflicting. Loyalty too isn’t black and white.
Both protagonists show that sometimes loyalty to oneself and the greater good can mean betraying those we once trusted or were bound to.
2. Questioning Blind Faith and Authority
The story lays bare the dangers of blind faith, especially when it’s rooted in prejudice. The Chasseurs, under the Church’s guidance, ruthlessly hunt witches, believing that their actions are righteous.
However, as the plot unfolds, it becomes evident that much of this hatred is based on historical vendettas, power plays, and misinformation. Reid’s transformation from a zealous witch-hunter to someone who loves and understands a witch shows the importance of questioning dogma.
We are reminded that it’s crucial to challenge institutional beliefs and not accept everything at face value. Authority, whether religious, political, or familial, can sometimes be misguided or corrupted, and it’s the individual’s duty to discern the truth for themselves.
3. The Power of Love and Understanding Over Prejudice:
Despite their vast differences and initial distrust, Lou and Reid’s relationship blossoms into genuine love.
This theme underscores the idea that prejudices, whether they’re against a race, religion, or in this case, witches, are often based on ignorance. By spending time together and attempting to understand each other’s perspectives, the two not only fall in love but also dismantle their preconceived notions about each other’s “kind.”
It’s a potent reminder that love, empathy, and understanding can bridge even the most profound divides. To truly understand someone, one needs to look beyond labels and stereotypes, recognizing the shared humanity beneath.
By doing so, it’s possible to overcome biases, break down barriers, and forge connections that might have seemed impossible.
“Serpent & Dove” offers a captivating blend of romance, magic, and moral dilemmas. The juxtaposition of a witch and a witch-hunter provides a fresh twist on star-crossed lovers, making it a compelling read for those craving fantasy with depth and heart.
Read our other summaries
- Thrivers Summary and Key Lessons | Michele Borba
- The Alter Ego Effect Summary and Key Lessons
- The Longevity Paradox Summary and Key Lessons
- How The Word Is Passed Summary and Key Lessons
- The Obstacle is The Way Summary and Key Lessons