Célie Tremblay has been through a lot. But that didn’t stop her from joining the ranks of the Chausseurs as the first ever huntswoman. It’s not easy though - the men look down on her and her captain (and fiancé) Jean Luc can’t help but want to protect her. When bodies start turning up drained of all their blood, Célie is determined to help find the killer. She finds herself among creatures she didn’t know existed and the center of a plot she couldn’t have anticipated, all while she is still being haunted by the whispers of her past.
The Serpent & Dove series holds a very special place in my heart and it was so incredibly fun to dive back into that world again with this book. Célie was a major player in the original trilogy, but she was also primarily a side character that we didn’t get to see develop as fully (which is not to say she didn’t go through a journey). It was so entrancing to have her take center stage and blossom as the main character.
This story introduces us to vampires and ghosts, both playing an integral part of the story. Though Shelby incorporated a lot of vampire lore that has floated around for ages, her vampires still felt like a fresh take on an old favorite, introducing us to things like bloodlust as a disease. And while I’m not sure if it was intended, parts of Célie’s interactions with the ghosts made me chuckle a bit and lightened the mood in an otherwise dark book.
And when I say "dark," I don't just mean because Célie spends a lot her time in it (I mean, you know, vampires and all). There are a lot of darker themes that are tackled in this story and it is done so beautifully. The way in which Shelby portrays anxiety and panic attacks, PTSD, grief, and addiction digs its way deep into your heart so that you feel like you have a better understanding of what it feels like even if you have never suffered through it yourself. She also tackles the perception that people who are suffering are somehow fragile, that they need extra protection - and why they don't.
And because of all of that, though Célie is a familiar character, she almost feels brand new in a way. She still has a bit of an air to her, but seeing her in new environments, new situations, and with a new outlook on life was refreshing. While she still has a bit of the Célie we know from the original trilogy, she also sharpens her edges as the story progresses. The Célie that we see at the start of the book is definitely different than the Célie that we see at the end the book, changed by her experiences but also by the reminders from her friends that she has always been a force to be reckoned with.
Speaking of her friends, fans of the Serpent & Dove series will be happy to see some other familiar faces in this story! While I sobbed at every mention of [REDACTED], it was lovely to revisit with these characters that feel like old friends and see where they are now. And not only do we get to revisit with old characters, but we get to meet new characters who are nuanced and interesting, each appearing to be one way and showing a different side to themselves as the story moves on. They all managed to worm their way into my heart, though they don't always make it easy!
And that ending! I knew it had to be coming, but I just couldn’t picture how it would come together. Yet again, Shelby Mahurin leaves my heart racing with a cliffhanger that I’ll be thinking about for days, weeks, months to come. Brava.
THE SCARLET VEIL by Shelby Mahurin is the first in a new spinoff duology following the Serpent & Dove trilogy. It hits shelves on September 26, 2023 and you can pick up a copy here. If you’re a book collector, you can pick up a special edition from Barnes & Noble or Waterstones, a signed copy from Books-A-Million, or a signed and personalized copy from Wild Geese Bookshop.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."