Gods & Monsters
By Shelby Mahurin
Guys, I can’t believe the S&D series, one of the first books I decided to review on here, has come to a close! I’m so happy with its ending, yet I still feel bittersweet that it is finished. Since following Shelby on Instagram, I feel like I have come to know her and what these books meant to her… and somehow that has made this series all the more special to me. The power of social media, amiright. Serpent & Dove is SO good and it is one of my favorite books, and Blood & Honey… was necessary! So many readers complained about the second novel in this series, and while I will agree that it wasn’t as good as S&D, it was still amazing and I understand the hardships Lou and Reid had to go through in that novel. Necessary hardships for their characters… Lou had to get a grip on her power and realize that she could be a powerful witch without turning into her mother. Reid had to come to terms with the fact that he is a witch, and that isn’t a bad thing. Gods & Monsters was the perfect blend of the two, and while nothing will ever compare to the first novel, I think this book ended the series just how it should.
B&H ended on a massive cliff hanger, with the wraith Nicholina possessing Lou. Nicholina’s POV at the beginning of each part in this novel really added a sort of creepy, supernatural element to the plot, while also helping us understand more of her character. She was sooooooooo weird and scary, but I really enjoyed the change up in the narrative. You could tell she was Shelby’s favorite character as well, considering the depth that went into her backstory. I wasn’t sure where the story would go with Lou’s possession, but I really liked the beginning of this book in Reid’s POV. Reid is hands down my personal favorite in this entire series, and I don’t care what any of you readers say. I love his temper, his possessiveness, his judgement, his attitude, his seriousness, and every other attribute of his. There’s just something about him that made me giddy every time his POV came up, and I just love him. So much that I try to read through Lou’s POV as quickly as I can just to get to his mind again. Beau is a close second favorite character, and I really enjoyed the role he played in this book. His love towards Lou was so wholesome, and each time he called Lou his sister had me grinning from ear to ear. It almost felt like a Harry and Hermione trope, and I am here for it. Another surprise character I came to really love was Celie… though I will admit that when she first came on the page I groaned and wondered wtf she was doing there. I liked her small “redemption” arc, if you will, and her friendship with Lou and Coco was the girls’ group I never asked for yet needed.
I was looking forward to meeting the melusines, but their presentation fell flat for me. I think I was hoping for more of an eery, Pirates of the Caribbean vibe, so they just weren’t as cutthroat as I wanted them to be, but that is just a personal take. Anyone have any good recommendations for pirate/mermaid novels that err on the side of dark and spooky? Send them my way please and thank you. Anyways, I think that the entire melusine section of the novel could have been cut out. There was no point to any of it, and I think gaining Isla’s support wasn’t necessary to the plot. I screamed in frustration when Reid woke up from his sleep, only to have completely forgotten Lou… and it drove me completely nuts for the rest of the novel. I want more Reid and Lou! I wanted to see them together, being Reid and Lou, full of arguments and tension and passion… and I feel like we were jipped of that in B&H AND now in G&M. Though this strain on their relationship grew on me (especially that scene in the boat… oooofff that had me BLUSHING blushing out of nowhere), it just felt like a forced repeat of S&D, and a part of me still doesn’t feel satisfied because I think I will forever and always want more Lou and Reid. Sigh.
The entire ending of this book was full to the brim of action… almost too full. Throughout the series, the “Big Bad” has always been Lou’s mother, Morgane… yet more of the ending was focused on the King and his obsession with burning Lou and Reid at the stake. So many characters came together in an Endgame-esque sort of battle, but I kept noticing as I got closer and closer to the end of the novel that Morgane had yet to make an appearance in this battle. When she finally did, her death seemed rushed and quick compared to the reign of terror she held over this entire series. Truthfully, there were too many extra side characters that I thought didn’t need to be in this scene, and I would have loved to see more focus on Lou and Reid using some sick witchcraft to take on Morgane, as it should have been. They could have really used the growth they went through in B&H separately to come together and defeat Morgane together. But, I think that would be asking a lot of the series, and it would have involved key changes going all the way back to B&H. As the series stands right now, I think the ending was perfect and it wrapped up everything nicely for the readers.
I have to say, the scenes with Ansel (Lou’s mental conversation and his POV at the very end) had me SOBBING. I actually don’t know if I can ever forgive Shelby for his death… poor, sweet Ansel. His view of Reid and Lou’s wedding was so unexpected and I cherished every second of it; just reading his name at the top of the page had me instantly breaking out in tears. I think his POV perfectly encapsulated the feeling we all have after losing a loved one, when we look to the sky and hope that they are watching and there to celebrate with us. Gahhhhh. I won’t cry while writing this, I won’t cry while writing this, I won’t cry… I’m crying.
The entire Serpent & Dove series was so good, and it will forever be one of my favorites, minor qualms included. Lou and Reid hold a grip on my heart, and the supporting characters were incredible as well… it’s so hard to say goodbye to all of them! I’m equal parts happy to see it come to the perfect end, and sad that we have to say goodbye to these characters… but I’m looking forward to Shelby’s next novel, as she has become one of my all time favorite authors. She is one that I admire and look up to in every possible way as a hopeful author myself.