Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin ARC Review + Playlist

Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

Published by: Harper Teen on September 1, 2020 (US) 17 September, 2020 (UK)

Genres: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 528

My Rating: ★★★



After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.


❝This will always be your life with her—running, hiding, fighting. You will never know peace.❞

Blood & Honey has me reeling days later and I’m already anxiously awaiting the third book. At the core, this is book about grieving people you shouldn’t — in both a literal and metaphorical sense — and the immense love we hold for people that ultimately hurt us. It feels more character driven in comparison to Serpent & Dove, which I appreciated. The entire cast is so loveable and distinctive in their personalities, so their interactions are consistently entertaining. I liked being able to see more of Ansel, Beau and Madame Labelle in this book and I liked how every character has a clear narrative purpose. All that being said, there’s still plenty of action and the quick-witted dialogue to keep things interesting alongside the characters.

❝You’ll always be a witch hunter. I’ll always be a witch. And we’ll always bring each other pain.❞

In terms of prose, Shelby Mahurin‘s writing is so beautiful and I’m continually in awe by the construction of her magical world and the relationships between characters. Since it’s a sequel, Blood & Honey doesn’t rely as much on explaining the magic system, meaning we get a deeper look into certain emotions and the drawbacks of magic. This time around, it’s less what magic is and more the consequences. Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, leading to times where I genuinely wondered if the ‘good’ side would prevail. When you follow certain characters, it’s reasonable that you think they’re going to win, but I doubted it at times in Blood & Honey. It’s a book full of thrills that keeps you guessing and even in the slower parts, Mahurin is waiting on the sidelines to throw a new curveball her characters’ way.

❝You are a snake. Shed your skin if it no longer serves you. Transform into something different. Something better.❞


❝I have the power to protect the ones I love, and I will sacrifice anything for them. If that makes me a monster—if that makes me aberrant—I’ll don the teeth and claws to make it easier for you.❞

Even in Serpent & Dove, Lou was rather jaded for her age, but I’d argue there was still some light to her. However, Blood & Honey sees Lou losing herself. She is snarky and unapologetic like always, yet I found it particularly gruelling to read her wading through the abyss and trying to navigate being one of the ‘good guys’ when it goes against how she was raised. The thing I love about Lou is her intentions are always good, but she’s so laser-focused on achieving her goals that she doesn’t realise the chaos she often leaves in her wake. Lou is such a strong heroine, but she’s fumbling in the sequel and she isn’t as charming or charismatic when she’s at rock bottom. In Blood & Honey, Lou’s flaws are thrust into a inescapable spotlight and all her shortcomings are more prominent than ever. Some people might not like this, but I liked her more for all these complexities.

❝I couldn’t handle such knowledge. Couldn’t bear the consequences I’d reap, atone for the pain I’d inflicted. For the love I’d stolen.❞

Reid is one of my favourite book characters ever and it was fun to see things from his perspective more in this book. I found it fascinating to be inside his head — his ongoing internal struggle after finding out about his magic is both invigorating and tumultuous to read. He makes a lot of tough calls in Blood & Honey and I will defend his choices to the death because his entire moral code has been called into question with him being a witch and he is so clearly torn. If Lou’s at rock bottom, so is Reid, except he’s expected to be the put together and responsible one. His development still has a long way to go, but that’s why it was so realistic. For all his wit and banter, this book focuses on Reid being forced to abandon his chasseur lifestyle and living with the guilt of persecuting his possible family. He’s full of angst and self-loathing, but refuses to sink to his enemy’s levels or compromise his values, then Lou . . . is the opposite. Terrence, a new character, said it best — Reid is earth, Lou is fire.


❝You—you gave me to her. I’m not innocent now, but I was once. I was a baby. A child. You gave me to a woman who would kill me, to a woman who would never love me.❞

Without a doubt, my favourite moment is when Lou talks to God — or something akin to that type of figure — about how she has lost her way. It is such a powerful, heartbreaking scene that reminds you how young Lou actually is. From a young age, the world has been out to get her and this scene feels like both a turning point and breaking point for her character. Lou is angry with the hand she’s been dealt in life and she has every right to be, but her vulnerability in this scene is so unlike her headstrong persona that it marks it as a scene I’ll want to reread until the words blur together.

❝“Now”—his hands landed on his hips, his eyes glinting—“do I need to confiscate the knife?”

I tossed it in the air, catching it by the blade before sending it upward once more. “You can certainly try.”❞

This is actually a really insignificant scene, but my heart exploded when I read it! For me, this was the moment I knew it was going to be one of my favourite books of the year. Lou and Reid’s relationship is both complicated and addictive, so the small respite from the drama of Morgane chasing their tails in the form of a mock fight is beyond endearing. Whilst their relationship is really put through the wringer in Blood & Honey, all the sweet moments they share make it all worth it. I truly believe their personalities complement each other so well and this book only made me like the couple more because the entire plot of Blood & Honey involves their relationship being put to the test. It’s far easier to fall in love than stay in love.


Blood & Honey is such an engaging, well-written novel that there weren’t many moments where the pacing lulled. Although, there’s a point early on where Lou and Reid split up on their quest for allies and I thought the separation lasted a little too long. Their dynamic is what makes the book so fun, meaning their time apart feels a little too serious and is a heavy part to slug through.


As someone who was relatively underwhelmed by Serpent & Dove, Shelby Mahurin has upped the stakes with Blood & Honey and I loved it. It feels a little darker, a little grittier and has Mahurin marking herself as a staple YA fantasy author. After the success of Serpent & Dove, people have put a lot of pressure on this sequel to be good and I can honestly say it obliterated all my expectations. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially if you want to get your heart broken — it made me sad, mad and everything in between. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that evoked such an emotional reaction from me. People are going to leave this book hating Shelby Mahurin in the best way possible, I promise.


After reading, I created a short playlist of eight songs that really captures the tone of Blood & Honey. This might give you an idea of what to expect and you can join me on my Twitter account (@megiswriting) on release day for a full breakdown of why I chose each song — there will be spoilers!

Thank you to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

read it and weep,

11 replies on “Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin ARC Review + Playlist”

This review was so so good! I definitely need to read Serpent & Dove and Blood & Honey. The playlist was such a great idea, I absolutely love book playlists!

Liked by 1 person

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