Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Venom by Fiona Paul


Venom by Fiona Paul
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose, Book #1
Published: October 30th, 2012
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin Group)
432 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult historic fiction/mystery/romance
Acquired this book: Requested from Razorbill
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Purchase this book: Book Depository || Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.

When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin... and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ©, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.


Venom was the number one book on my wish list from the moment I saw the cover and read the synopsis. I wanted this book so badly, and was really excited to receive it from Razorbill. Obviously I had very high hopes for it, and it sounded like it had so much potential - intrigue, murder, romance - all the elements that make for an amazing story.

For me, what stopped it from being amazing was the length. The story itself was good, but it was far too long and bogged down with details. It took me nearly two weeks to get through this book. It was repetitive and way too detailed - we heard every detail of every building, every dress, every hairstyle, etc. Venom could have been absolutely incredible if it had been about 100 pages shorter and had concentrated more on the story itself.

Also, when I read historical fiction, I like to be transported to that time and place, and I expect characters to talk the way they did within the setting of the time frame (but a bit modernized so we can understand it, of course). While the setting was very well done and felt authentic, the language was completely modern; with exception to the dresses, the way women were treated, and a few other little details, I had trouble getting a sense of the time period, and if it hadn’t said in the synopsis, I wouldn’t have had a clue. All the language and conversations were completely contemporary, and that threw me off. It didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book, but it didn’t feel truly authentic as an historical novel.

With all that being said, Venom definitely had its good points. Cass was spirited and independent, especially for a woman of her time. While I had trouble connecting with her, I still liked her as a character (I think I’d have connected with her more easily if the story had been told in first person instead of third). The story was full of intrigue and mystery, secrets and lies - nobody was who they seemed, and everyone appeared to be keeping secrets. Cass didn’t know who to trust, and with good reason. Venom was full of tension, exciting moments, plot twists, and enough mystery to keep me guessing.

As for the romance - aka love triangle - I could see the appeal of both boys. Falco was mysterious and exciting, and there was something forbidden about him, which I think is a large part of the appeal for Cass, who had lived a fairly sheltered life. Luca was steady and patient, and seemed like he’d really be there for Cass. They both had secrets, and while I believe they both truly cared for Cass, I’m not sure who’s right for her. I went back and forth throughout the entire book. I don’t normally have a problem with love triangles, so I’ll be curious to see how this one plays out, especially after how the book ended. 

While I’m not usually a fan of cliffhanger endings, especially when the next book doesn’t come out for a while, I loved this particular ending. It leaves you yearning for more, and yet it was done in a way that left me feeling satisfied instead of antsy.

While this has nothing to do with the book itself, I just wanted to mention that, physically, Venom is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. Not only is the cover stunning, but the inside is gorgeous too. Each page has beautiful designs, the chapter headings are lovely, and there’s a page before each chapter with a saying from the Book of the Eternal Rose. I’d like to give major kudos to whoever designed this book, because they did a phenomenal job.

Overall, while Venom wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, I did enjoy it, and I’m looking forward to reading Belladonna in 2013.


Have you read Venom? What did you think? Do you enjoy historical fiction?

1 comment:

  1. The cover really is beautiful. I'd want to read this book for that reason too! Historical fiction is a difficult one for me because I find they generally are very long. The love triangle sounds like it's well done though.

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