Do you like magic? Fantasy? Enemies-to-lovers tales? French-based worldbuilding? All of the above? The Serpent and Dove series is a blend of just about everything beautiful in the YA fantasy world today.
Honestly, I cannot say this of many books that I have read but I feel as though I can perfectly describe Serpent and Dove with other books that I have loved. Mahurin takes elements of so many amazing YA books and weaves them together to create something stunning and entirely its own.
Serpent and Dove has:
The plot of the Talon Saga.
In case you haven't read the Talon Saga (by Julie Kagawa), the book is about dragons who can take the form of humans. The society of dragons is called "Talon" and one of the main characters is a part of this society...at least at first. That is until she meets someone one summer (in her human form) and begins to fall in love. What she doesn't know: the person is a part of the church organization that works to hunt the dragons and he is there to hunt her down and kill her (though he doesn't know his target is the girl he's been falling for).
The Talon Saga is one of my favorite series. I love the enemies-to-lovers romance in the series and the way the characters have to learn to work together to find the middle ground (i.e. both extremes are bad so what is the solution?). Mahurin has a very similar plotline in her series though instead of dragons, she has witches. The other thing I really loved about Mahurin's book was that she took a very similar plot (enemies to lovers from two rival organizations one of which is the church and one of which is magical/powerful) and placed it in a world of her own. Kagawa's books are set in the human world which works really well for Kagawa and adds an interesting factor (because she has to explain how humans haven't noticed dragons in their midst). Mahurin's book, in contrast, is set in a world she creates which I always love to see. This involves a lot more creativity and planning on the part of the author (in my opinion) and I really felt like Mahurin pulled it off.
The worldbuilding of the Grishaverse series:
I love the three Grishaverse series. They are incredibly popular right now thanks to the Netflix show based on the first two but, as I state in my reviews of Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows, and King of Scars, I found them to be entirely worth the hype.
One of the things I loved most about Bardugo's books was her worldbuilding. Bardugo does an amazing job of building worlds inspired by cultures from around the world including Russia, Holland, and China. This kind of worldbuilding was replicated in a similar way in Mahurin's books. Mahurin uses French culture. to create her world. Many of the creatures, names, worlds, and more have french inspiration which gives the book a particular vibe I really enjoyed.
Within the first few pages of Serpent and Dove, I was immediately saying to myself, "this book is similar to the Grishaverse books" and I never felt like taking the statement back. The characters are not the same. The storyline is not the same. The author does not even write particularly similarly to Bardugo. And yet, there is something that makes the books feel similar to the Grishaverse books. If you enjoy Bardugo's works, I would highly encourage you to check out Serpent and Dove.
The writing style of A Court of Thorns and Roses/Throne of Glass
I would not say I love all of Sarah J. Maas's books. Some I do enjoy and others are not my favorite. Sometimes I enjoy parts of the books but not the books as a whole. I would not list Sarah J. Maas as a favorite author. However, she does have a particular writing style that many do enjoy.
Largely, I think the characters' actions and diction reminded me of Sarah J. Maas. The characters were entirely the creation of Mahurin and I did not find the characters themselves to be like those within the pages of a Sarah J. Maas book. However, I did find that often, what a character would do or say would remind me of the writing style of Srah J. Maas. Perhaps it was because the book did largely revolve around who the characters were and how they responded to certain situations. Perhaps it was the curses, sarcasm, and sexual references. Maybe it was both. Whatever it was, something about the way the book was written, and the very words themselves reminded me of Sarah J. Maas.
I did find the book to be much less covered in references to sex than Maas's books tend to be which was refreshing. While Maas's books can have much too many sexual references, making her books more "adult" and less "young adult," I found that Mahurin's book was not suitable for middle-grade readers by any means but was something I could be comfortable reading. It reminded me of Maas's style without being full of the same references she included.
An overall review of the series:
I loved the Serpent and Dove series. Though I found the last few pages of the epilogue to be strange, I loved every other page of the trilogy. For the most part, I cannot find anything wrong with the series at all. I loved the characters and was disappointed to let them go as I read the final page. I enjoyed the plot and felt the author did an excellent job of piecing it all together. I felt the worldbuilding was excellently done and appreciated the French-inspired world Mahurin created. I would definitely include it in my top three series along with The Lunar Chronicles (Marissa Meyer) and the Grishaverse series (Leigh Bardugo). I would highly encourage you to check out this series and enjoy it for yourself.
Books Like This: The Talon Saga, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Shadow and Bone Trilogy, Six of Crows Duology, King of Scars Duology, Red Queen Series, The Selection Series, The Caraval Trilogy, The Cursebreakers Series