Six months have passed since Célie took her sacred vows and joined the ranks of the Chasseurs as their first huntswoman. With her fiancé, Jean Luc, as captain, she is determined to find her foothold in her new role and help protect Belterra. But whispers from her past still haunt her, and a new evil is rising—one that Célie herself must vanquish, unless she falls prey to the darkness.
Title: The Scarlet Veil (The Scarlet Veil #1)
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Expected Publication Date: 9/5/23
I want to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins Children's Books for providing me with an egalley of this book to read and give an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Having read the Serpent & Dove trilogy, I will say I was hesitant about this book. While I enjoyed the world built in those three books, I felt the author was a bit disjointed with how she presented it and often found myself having to back track to make sure I was understanding scenes correctly. I had particular trouble with the second book and was even hesitant to finish the series. But overall I enjoyed it and really wanted to see where the author would take a new book in this world. I am so glad I put my hesitancy aside and jumped into this one because I ended up truly enjoying it.
First I will say I can see how Mahurin has grown as a writer since the first books she wrote. The world she chose to build was deep in fantasy and while I was able to clasp the basics of it, I felt like things were missing. This book solidified that world very well. I almost felt like it was a different author writing this book than the others I have previously read.
I"m so happy Mahurin chose to write this book from Célie's perspective. I enjoyed meeting her character in the first trilogy but I also didn't feel like we completely got who she was. I actually didn't like her all that much. But I think this story is especially considering the bigger part she took in the third book of that series. In this book we see her as much more than the prim and proper aristocrat she is made out to be. She's been immersed in a world of creatures she formally despised/feared and now she's learning there is more to these other worldly creatures than what she has been taught all her life. Given the events of the final Serpent & Dove book, this makes total sense. This book shows immeasurable growth for her. character. Does she become some badass heroine who suddenly knows how to fight and take on the paranormal, yes, to a degree. But mostly you see how smart and perceptive she is and how she uses that to figure things out and fight. She is completely relatable because she is so real. I think girls will connect with her because she is not suddenly a character who can win all her battles with brute force or some special power. I also love the introduction of the new characters in this book. Odessa, Dimitri, and of course Michal. Michal is a love to hate character who grows on you so much in the end, you don't want to hate him anymore. But Mahurin also does not totally romanticize vampires as some other books do. You get the gore and power that truly encompasses what a vampire is. They are a gruesome and awesome trio of vampires. And the side characters are also fun to learn about. Plus you get your favorites from the first trilogy: Lou, Coco, Reid, and Beau, and even Jean Luc. And the villain turns out to be someone you really would not think of as a one, but makes total sense when it's revealed.
And the romance! UGH! It's a total and complete slow burn. And even at the end, you are not sure how or where it will end up, though you do see the complete and total connection that has occurred. I will again emphasize how Mahurin does not completely romanticize vampires in this book. This is a very important part of the romance that does occur.
The plot is amazing. I love the vampire aspect. I did get a bit of a Twighlight vibe between Célie and Michal. I also feel a bit of Beauty and the Beast coming through. If you're looking for a good enemies to friends to more trope, this book ticks off those boxes. While Mahurin does create a bit of a new world in this book, I do think you need the background from the first trilogy to truly understand the world in total. Mahurin does a good job with some background, but I honestly feel like I would have been lost without that background. I would not be surprised if the author chooses to write a short to go set before this series (or even the previous one) to link the two without someone having to read the first trilogy. I don't think you can truly understand Célie and how she grows and changes without that background. I am happy I did read the first trilogy and would recommend that to anyone before jumping into this book. In this way, I feel I can compare Mahurin's books to Cassandra Clare. Not only does it have many paranormal characters, but the links made between the books are immensely important,
Mahurin was spot on with her pacing for this book. I truly could not put it down. I read it in just a few days while on vacation. Every chapter left me with a want to dive right into the next and see where the story goes. I loved the tension she wove into each chapter and I feel this is what truly pushed the book forward.
One of the things I adored about how Mahurin staged this book is that she did not rely on the previous main characters to ensure there was a story. Were the involved, yes. Much of the hints lead back to the first trilogy. She truly made the story about Célie and her experiences. She composes a story that shows Célie's strengths but also exposes her weaknesses. But most of all, she makes her a survivor.
Overall, I adored this one. But that ending! I had tears. and then Mahurin went where I was sure she would not go and it made the entire book even more spectacular! I need book #2 now, but have to wait and I am already chomping at the bit for it! Again, I don't want to be a broken record but people really need to read the first series before this spin off. Not only does it spoil the trilogy but it will give you a better understand of the world, the magic system, and characters you meet.