(AF links used in this book review)
Blood and Honey, by Shelby Mahurin had me beyond excited as soon as I hit the final chapter in the previous book. Then Shelby did it again. She ripped my heart out at the penultimate chapter. While I want to scream and shout, here is my non-spoiler book review of Blood and Honey. Affiliate links have been used in this book review.
Rated: Four Stars out of Five.
Predecessor: Serpent and Dove
Purchase Blood and Honey at Waterstones Here
Blood and Honey is the welcomed sequel to Serpent and Dove. The predecessor was a breakout book of 2019 for young adult fantasy. With Blood and Honey released this year, it also was widely craved. We follow main characters, and enemies-to-lovers, Lou and Reid, picking up with them following the climatic ending of its predecessor.
While this will be a spoiler-free book review of Blood and Honey, there may well be spoilers for Serpent and Dove.
Something to be aware of before going into this book is that the series has been extended from a duology to a trilogy. It’s important to be aware because Shelby, once again, rips your voice-box out and leaves you on the edge of your seat with the ending chapters. Which, I’d be annoyed at but she did it so damn good.
The tension is palpable in this book from the first chapter. Lou is left recovering following the ending with her Mother and the remains of their life her and Reid left behind. From chapter one, it gets darker, with more magic and more things at stake. Literally.
Within the story, we meet some interesting new faces, and get to know ones we already made friends with. One to particularly look out for is Deveraux who had me scratching my head for quite some time. Deveraux is the founder of a travelling circus, where those travelling with him are called actors. As you can imagine, they are all as interesting as you can imagine.
If you loved Ansel, he will continue to steal your affection, or did he for me, anyway. Coco remains beautiful but kept from us—and Beau is someone who grew on me over the course of the book.
It is Lou who I was most excited to follow, as she changes chapter by chapter. There are moments where we are led to believe it’s due to magic. But there is clearly more at play which, I think and hope, will be developed in the third instalment. Lou’s relationship with Reid annoyed me in this book, but her overall arc was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked her dance between good and bad. Shelby allowing her to go much further than most main characters go, and it was delicious. We also recieve an enchanting dance with magic on several occasions. We get to see Lou unleash her power and it’s amazing! I actually kind of hope she will become even more free in the final instalment, because her badassery had me wishing desperately to be a witch myself.
Overall, in terms of plot and execution, I did like this book more than the first. I found the tension beautifully written and the introduction of the new characters was brilliantly executed. However, Lou and Reid—who I was here for in the first book—irritated me at times. While their sweet moments together are few and far between, when they are apart they both need to be given a little pinch (slap, they need a slap). Most of the time, both are very adamant the other is in the wrong. Both not recognising the bigger picture at play, or at stake. This becomes more annoying in Part II, and ruined the build-up we had in the first book.
However, because of this development, Beau and Ansel were allowed to shine and that somewhat made up for it. We ended up with more page-time with Ansel, Beau and Coco; although, I don’t feel the latter two were as developed as they could have been. Ansel’s low self-esteem began to pick up traction, and will have you biting your nails in anticipation. At several points, I wanted to throw my life down for him. But, Beau and Coco seemed to be quickly forgotten about; they only came into focus when necessarily to push Lou’s point of view across.
Understandably, it is a book about Lou and Reid. But it’s hard not to crave more from the secondary characters when they are just as interesting.
My biggest complaint, though, and the reason I knocked this down from five to four, was the amount of Reid chapters. Usually, I’m here for mixed characters chapters, but he quickly became tiresome. His hatred on magic became annoying when he proved time and time again he didn’t care Lou was a witch. Whatever opinion he had, it quickly changed chapters later, which made the entire debacle even more annoying. At times, it came at the detriment with his relationship with Lou. While I think it was done for tension, it came off as bothersome, then dramatic. It also stole some precious moments we could have had, especially knowing Lou’s own arc.
That being said, writing wise it’s fun, and you do find yourself quickly reading the chapters. The descriptions are beautiful, and you get a real feel for the placing within book two. Lou on her own, steals the book, and her entire arc was my favourite thing if I had to pick one. The tension because of her is built and released brilliantly.
As someone unsure whether Blood and Honey would live up to the first, I can tell you I was proved wrong. It is better, and Shelby’s writing has strengthened so much. Not that I thought it needed to. If you loved the magic and wanted more, you’ll love the chapters in this book; if you want your heart ripped out, once again, then read this because Shelby has a gift of being able to do so. She’ll even have you holding your breath without a mutter of a spell.
It is an emotional rollercoaster, combined with magic; it’s a chase with the entire city coming after them. You’ll struggle to put it down, even when you want to lock Lou and Reid in a room to sort themselves out. But, for all the little annoyances, I’m so excited for the third instalment, and I can’t wait to find out where all the characters will end up.
It’s just unfortunate we don’t have an exact release date yet, because I’m biting my fingers in anticipation.
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