Blood & Honey Book Review
Blood & Honey was released on 1st September 2020 and is the second book by Shelby Mahurin. I ordered the special edition from Fairyloot which has been delayed so I also bought the Kindle version of this book. Blood & Honey is 544 pages long and continues the story of Lou & Reid from Serpent & Dove. This book is very different from Serpent & Dove and I feel it’s important to go into this one with fresh eyes. This is not the romantic enemies to lovers tale we first read in book one because the relationship has already been established. It is, however, a continuation after the events of book one and builds up nicely for what I think will be an explosive finally to the trilogy. If you would like to order a copy I have an affiliate link for Blood and Honey below.
I am trying out a new way of reviewing books by using my kindle notes and annotations to talk about certain aspects in the book. Therefore, this review will contain spoilers, a summary and a book review. If you have not read this yet or do not want to be spoiled then please do not read. I really want to try and make this more of a discussion on the characters and the plot of the book rather than a spoiler free review. If you would like spoiler free reviews then this blog is not for you.
Reviewing Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin
I read Blood & Honey on my kindle and uploaded my thoughts and notes as I went through the book. If you want to follow me on Good Reads you can find more of these notes if you’re interested.
Blood & Honey felt really dark to me. The setting of it being in an enchanted forest, the appearance of the matagot and all the other magic around. What we learn of La Dame Rougue’s magic and how they could use tears but choose blood and the price they have to pay was really interesting. I felt this book was a little strangely paced at times, certain things were stretched out to give the appearance of two weeks passing which lead to a lot of character development but not much plot development.
I would personally say this is a heavily character driven book with some filler plot details and a pretty spectacular final 30% where most, if not all, the action is. The last part of the book holds the most plot development and foreshadows some interesting parts to expect from book 3. The appearance and addition to Claud Deveraux is an interesting one and I felt his revelation fitted well with the story but I’m not really sure what his motives are or what will happen with him next. I don’t think he’s really about good v evil, more of a spectator that shouldn’t intervene but feels he has to. Something bigger is afoot and I hope it’s revealed in the next book.
On Ansel Diggory
My first note from reading Blood & Honey was on Ansel Diggory and I don’t know if this was foreshadowing or if it was just because of his development but his feelig of hopelessness in the book was just incredibly sad. “But I was worthless in that fight, just like I’ll be worthless in the Blood camp.” – there are a few more like this from Ansel and each time my heart was breaking. Ansel is such a cinnamon roll character. He’s incredibly sweet and so wants to find his place in the world. He didn’t really believe in what the church were doing which is probably why he was so drawn to Lou and Coco even if he didn’t *know* they were witches right away.
Ansel, throughout the book, does not feel like he is good enough. He doesn’t feel worth anything. He is so incredibly lost but it never comes across as him being a moody teenager. It is just really sad. It makes you want to wrap him up in a warm hug and tell him it will be okay. His training with Lou is painful because it’s not something he’s good at. His romance with Coco doesn’t come to fruition. Again, foreshadowing maybe but it really feels like these things are like severing ties. He isn’t good at fighting. He isn’t good at romance. He’s not feeling his best self. He is vulnerable and almost feels shame at being the ordinary in the group. He doesn’t feel special, and Lou trying to tell him he is in his own way just isn’t enough.
There were points were it felt like everything hadn’t quite broken Ansel yet. He wated to keep trying, to fight, train, with Coco. I think the fact that he still wants to try and protect others, that he still wants to be good, shows that the huntsme upbringing didn’t completely tear him down. He still had some spark of special left.
The Moment I realised…Who Dies in Blood & Honey?
“I’m not worthless, but I still don’t believe you. I can’t fight. I can’t cast enchantments. Let me prove I can do something—” This just felt horribly foreshadowing. It was the final line for me really that made me know what was going to happen to Ansel and my heart started to break all over again for him. His last conversation with Lou in the tunnels before the confrontation was hard and something I think Lou is really going to battle with in the next book.
If you’ve read the book then you’ll know at the end of Blood & Honey that Ansel dies. I had a feeling someone would die but I guess throughout the story it’s kind of hinted at that it will be Reid although with him being a narrator it didn’t make sense to kill him off. Ansel’s death is absolutely heartbreaking.
On Beauregard Lyon
Beau is the complete opposite to Ansel. He doesn’t feel sorry for himself or feel like he’s worthless but he is frustrated with his father and the status quo. I ended up realling liking him and felt he had a few moments of quiet genius when he put his arrogance aside. What I do like about Beau is he’s one of the males in the book that doesn’t agree with the system and he wants change because he doesn’t want to see people like Ansel – despite the love war – from suffering. I am convinced Beau is a good guy really. At least beyond the whips and jokes he knows what’s right or wrong despite what he’s been told. Reid struggles with this with his huntsmen beliefs. It seems Beau has questioned what’s right/wrong and I am here for it.
On Coco Monvoisin
Coco is a princess and I am here for it. She is such a good person, she’s so loyal and seeing her family at the blood camp really tore at me. The guilt she was feeling even though she was trying to protect Lou and keep her safe really made me so sad. Coco is absolutely the most resolute, strongest character in this series so seeing her vulnerable side was really interesting. I honestly think her and Lou will be able to bring both witch camps together again with the disposal of La Voisin & La Dame des Sorcieres. I love how she tries with Ansel because she knows he’s a good person and I think her infuriation at Beau was funny. I loved that she had some LGTBQ representation as well i this book as that’s really important. She is just beautiful and strong and really held everyone together. Someone needs to look after Coco.
On Reid Diggory
“Blue pigs. Fury coiled in my throat at the slur. These men didn’t realize all the Chasseurs did to ensure their safety. The sacrifices they made. The integrity they held. I eyed the men’s rumpled clothing in distaste. Perhaps they lived too far north to understand, or perhaps their farms sat too far removed from polite society.”
Reid. I like Reid. I really do. But he is a bit of a snob, especially when you consider his roots, and what we now know about his heritage. I know he’s still dealing with his loss of identity a bit but the huntsmen life really did sink in. Sometimes it makes me angry that he just accepted without question but then I guess that’s why he was captain because he was just how the archbishop wanted him to be from his early brainwashing. It is frustrating to read how he still views the chassuers as the right way to live and behave. However, he has a lot of work to undo here. He’s never had to question anything at all and this is testing every single one of his boundaries.
Reid has great character development in the second half of the book
Reading ‘Reid Labelle’ for the first time was really strange and it was the first time you see another of his names. I think he has four in this book. Lyon, as he’s the king’s son, Labelle, as he’s Madame Labelle’s son, Leblanc as Lou’s husband and Diggory the name he grew up with which is given to oprhans. I guess he has all of these identities pressing on him and he’s trying to find out who he is throughout the book. The world Lou and Coco come from is Matriarchal so he would have taken these names if things had been different.
When Reid says “All because of me. My beliefs.” I think this is a really important realisation for Reid, outside his bubble where people don’t respect the Chasseurs and what they do or don’t believe witches are evil or whatever other reason they don’t like the huntsmen. Growing up sheltered and praised, duty bound, to finally learning and listening. A revelation and so doubt another knock for him.
Reid desperately wants to belong to something or someone
There were parts that made me sad too, that throughout the book, particularly when Reid is without Lou, he is desperately seeking connection with someone. He doesn’t have Lou, or Ansel. His mother is kinda infuriating to be honest. He killed his father figure. He’s alone. He’s against everything he thought he knew. He seeks family. It really makes me sad because right now the last thing he needs is being hunted down, he needs some time to discover himself and figure things out. I guess there’s nothing like putting someone under pressure to work that out though!
On Lou LeBlanc
I didn’t have a lot of notes on Lou from my kindle read. Lou Leblanc is one of my favourite fictional females because she’s really badass. In Blood & Honey this is no different but there was a really important point made. When you start messing with memories and magic you lose a piece of yourself. This is so important I think and we see it come to fruition when they’re fighting Bas later in the book as he has no recollection of who she is. It is mentioned not to mess with memories but it seems Lou has done this a few times now, in Serpent and Dove and through Blood & Honey. Perhaps even before because she was hardly doing any magic and what she did do was in secret to prevet Morgane from catching her.
In Blood & Honey we see Lou spiral into madness and her magic. I had real vibes of Lady Macbeth and Cersei when reading some of Lou’s chapters as there were times when she was quite cruel. This must be the result of the memory removal changing her personality. I desperately hope it can be fixed in the third book as, even though she agreed to stop, her encounter at the end of the book makes me think all will not be as it seems. I worry for one of my favourite characters. She has put herself in quite a dark place and this has torn holes in who she is. The last part of the book she is much less ‘mad’ with the help of friends she see’s she is turning into Morgane and she doesn’t want that. I think we still have a way to go with Lou. I worry about how Ansel’s death will be a part of her in the next book, I worry that we have’t seen the extent of her madess and it will get worse before it truly gets better. However, I am hopeful that good will win against evil and even though everything requires a balance I hope Lou and Reid get their happy ending.
Who is the true villian of Blood & Honey?
This is an interesting one here I think. We have Morgane as the obvious villian. King Auguste who just seems like an asshole. I am completely unsure of Madame Labelle’s motives but I don’t think she’s a bad person. I think La Voisin and Nicholina are kind of working with Morgane but also for themselves. I think they want to destroy the leadership of the Dame Blanche and reverse the roles. I think they’re in this for revenge. I don’t trust them though at all. The last scene it seems like they do some kind of magic on Lou and I’m not sure how that will play out but it worries me. I think the chasseurs aren’t exactly bad but they’re kind of in over their heads now. I think by the end of the book we will see the end of witch hunting as well as the deaths of the king, Morgane and La Voisin.
Have you read Blood and Honey? What did you think? How do you think the next book will play out?
I absolutely love your review! Ansel’s death really tore me apart. His absence in the third book is so strong, I just started it. It felt like I lost a friend. I feel like author did not balance the Christian and witch side at all and she just used the Christian aspect to tell a witch story. It Just seemed like abrupt scorning Christianity especially when reid was in his dillema of being a witch and didn’t believe most of his teachings. I do agree with Reid on his statement of the chaussees. I think the chaussers protected the city because it’s easy to forget there were bad witches too. Sure it was an indoctrination but it was also a reality. The bad witches were killing their people. They weren’t aware of any good ones because they never met them. I love the message the book was trying to pass across. I think it’s that sides don’t matter You’re a good person if you choose to be good, regardless of where you stand. She represented how blind the people had been to cast people blessed with magic as evil but she also didn’t show any signs of the Christian brothers also being compassionate or anything and owning what they believed in. It seemed unfair that the whole story was that there wasn’t really any bad guys but the witches were the only ones upheld. When lou talked to God she made it seem like he didn’t exist cus she said she got no reply. So I sense strong biase from the author. I just feel like it’s so easy to judge the chaussers and we’re literally trying not to be judgemental about anybody in the book. It’s ultimately a good book but it was stretched too long. So many unnecessary delay to just make it a thousand pages. It was also eye opening and seriously entertaining. I loved lou and reid’s breaking point arguments. They were both extremely reasonable and right. I loved the real sense of their relationship freying apart but I feel like the author kept throwing us off. Like we want to be mad at lou for hurting reid like that during her training with ansel but the next scene they’re all holding hands. It was too fast and too forceful for me. She should have allowed both characters skulk and breathe for a while
I think originally the series was planned to be a duology but was stretched to a trilogy and, in retrospect, now I’ve read the third book and the series in it’s completion I can really tell that now. The third book is far superior, more balanced than I think Blood and Honey was. So I know what you mean about it being stretched too far, however, I feel like there needed to be something between book one and book three and this does fill that gap.
Yep, I definitely agree with you. Watching Ansel suffer it made me feel a lot with him. Especially because Ansel was more likeable than other characters in my opinion. I felt like relating to him a lot, and the death of him was useless. He could have been kept alive, and him dying made me really, really sad. It is just so heavy, after watching Ansel getting tore apart in his own emotions.. you could tell that he truly desired to be a part of the world, too. He didn’t want to be an outsider and I really liked him for his personality, simple and sweet. Even when others would find his shyness annoying, I found it sweet. Maybe he was not perfect, but to me he was just a character that spoke to me the most. Because sometimes you can try so hard and go nowhere, your attempts go to sand. I really wanted him to get his happy ending, I feel like Ansel deserved it. And Ansel might have not been good in fighting or romance, but if written right, he could have been. That is what hurts the most, when a good character goes to a waste. Because he could have have a serious character improvement. And I think if the author did that, it would have been more intense to watch him change and become more confident. Ansel was not just useless like he thought, he needed someone that reminded him that no matter how small the impact was, he was someone meaningful to someone else, too.
On the contrary side we got Beau, at the beginning of the series Beau wasn’t really my favorite but with the book giving me more aspects on him, I realised that besides that all, even if he came off selfish, deep down he had a good heart. I liked Beau in the second book a lot, because we learned new things about him. And him facing the danger and uncertainity, was very intense to follow. I liked that part too, and the fact that he still was loyal to his friends even after the dad found them. That gave me a big plus for him. I think Beau is just deep down a big sweetheart. I am gonna read the third soon too. But I won’t forget about Ansel, like I said. I hoped for a better evolution of this, and I was bitterly disappointed. It was such a feeling like a knife against us readers, because I felt connected to him as one of the less characters, besides Beau. Nonetheless, I loved both books for their writing style, and the action and feeling like you are inside the action with them. That was something, that reminded me why I love fantasy so much,and I am glad but.. that book, after closing, left a sweet bitter taste, and a heavy feeling. Not just a book to forget, I really felt like the author showed an amazing, inspiring and passionate style of the world. I did wish that I could have seen Ansel develop, but well.. I am gonna finish the series soon. It feels so wild. And I am curious to see if there is more to this.