Shelby Mahurin’s The Scarlet Veil comes on the heels of her bestselling Serpent & Dove series, and is set in the same French-inspired world of witches, hunters, and other dark and sexy supernatural creatures. Célie Tremblay, a girl haunted by the events of the recent past, has joined the ranks of the huntsmen to prove her mettle. She’s not magical, nor is she great with weapons, but she’s smart and resourceful, two traits that go unrecognized when dressed up in a beautiful, soft, feminine exterior. The captain of the huntsmen—and Célie’s fiancé—Jean Luc, is the first to dismiss her. The situation is frustratingly realistic and sets in motion the story of Célie uncovering and believing in her innate worth and strength.
When supernatural creatures start turning up murdered, Célie devotes herself to uncovering the truth, with or without the help of the other huntsmen. Her investigation is quickly hamstrung, however, by the appearance of a powerful and ancient vampire who has other plans for her. Célie’s journey will resonate with anyone who has ever felt small among their friends, and especially with girls and women who have spent their lives dismissed for their beauty, their emotions, their kindness, or their history. The book shines in the moments where Célie is allowed to voice her fears and frustrations, and the characters who previously dismissed her must listen.
The relationships between Célie and her friends will delight readers returning to the Serpent & Dove world and will provide new readers a compelling reason to check out the previous books, but the most important relationship is Célie’s bond with her dead sister, Filippa. Mahurin deftly captures the complexities of sisters growing up together and growing apart, and how Filippa shaped Célie’s identity both before and after death.
Célie’s softness and vulnerability are a breath of fresh air in a genre often overcorrecting for past sexism. The women in The Scarlet Veil are varied in their abilities, strengths, and motivations, allowed to be ambitious heroines and clever villains, fashionable nobles and adept fighters, all without the narrative casting judgment upon them or rendering them one-dimensional. And if that’s not enough to get you to read, come instead for the lush atmosphere, the deliciously creepy details, and the themes of embracing one’s strengths despite overwhelming opposition and fear.
The cliffhanger ending will leave readers frothing for the next book.
Francesca Zappia is the award-winning author of young adult books, including Eliza and Her Monsters, Katzenjammer, and Greymist Fair. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Indianapolis. She lives in Indiana with her good dog, Gus, and spends her free time baking, playing video games, and watching terrible movies.
Shelby Mahurin is the New York Times bestselling author of the Serpent & Dove trilogy. She grew up on a small farm in rural Indiana, where sticks became wands and cows became dragons. Her rampant imagination didn’t fade with age, so she continues to play make-believe every day—with words now instead of cows. When not writing, Shelby watches The Office and reads voraciously. She still lives near that childhood farm with her very tall husband and semiferal children. Visit her online at www.shelbymahurin.com.
Monthly reviews of books written by Indiana authors are made possible by the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards and Indiana Humanities. Opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the reviewer, not any affiliated entity.