Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Friday, October 12, 2012 with 5 comments
Add to Goodreads
Title:  Venom
Author:  Fiona Paul
Series:  Secrets of the Eternal Rose, book #1
Publisher:  Philomel
Publication Date:  October 30, 2012
Source:  Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours
Purchase:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, 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 fiancé, 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 started out as a very difficult read for me.  If it hadn’t been for a slew of reviews raving about this book, I might not have felt compelled to finish it, even if I did request it on an ARC tour.  But I am nothing, if not determined, and so I forged on…and I was handsomely rewarded with a tale of mystery, romance, and intrigue that twisted and turned more than a corkscrew.

The hardest part of this story for me, aside from the pacing in the very beginning, was the speech patterns of the main character.  I love historical fiction, and I knew Venom was set in Renaissance Italy; the research the author did on that front shines through.  Even the behaviors remarked upon in the book seemed relative to the time period.  It was simply the dialogue (mostly between Cass and Falco) and Cass’s own inner monologue that did not seem cohesive to the Renaissance era.  It just didn’t seem formal enough, especially considering Cass is a member of nobility, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that Falco is not.  But maybe I’m also expecting too much because I recently read My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, and though that was a fluffier read than Venom, it grabbed my attention from the very beginning and really made me feel as if I were walking the streets of Renaissance Italy as I read.

Cass was not my ideal protagonist, either.  She wants her independence, her freedom to choose who she loves and where she goes, but her efforts are thwarted time and again by her stodgy aunt or her maidservant.  But even with a murderer on the loose, Cass constantly puts herself at risk to seek the answers she so desperately craves regarding her friend’s missing body, the odd hours Falco keeps, and the many secrets of Senore Dubois and Dottore de Gradi, in addition to actually trying to find the murderer.  Sure, Falco is her near constant companion on her quest for the truth, but even he seems dangerous.  And she’s putting others’ well-being at risk with her endeavors, including the maidservants who are covering for her in her absence.  I guess my biggest problem with Cass’s character is her faltering sense of honor.

It would be careless of me not to mention that there is a love triangle in this novel, though it isn’t truly present until much closer to the end of the book.  Falco is that cocky, arrogant, enigmatic son-of-a-bleep that you don’t want to fall for, that you try your hardest not to fall for, and then what do you do?  You fall for him.  Well, most girls will anyway.  He was definitely swoon-worthy, but I’m faithful to a fault.  And distrustful as all get out.  Why was Cass seeking out Falco for secret, steamy moments when she’s engaged to the doggedly faithful Luca?  Even if she doesn’t love him and it’s only an arranged marriage, there was such a thing as honor back in those days.  Sure, the gallivanting behind Luca’s back is more fun to read about, but for shame, Cass.  For shame.  But, and this is a small concession, I never truly trusted Luca either.  For all of his undying faithfulness, his character isn’t as straightforward as he’d like everyone else to believe.  But this book is built upon secrets and lies and seduction, after all, and where would the fun be if both male points of this love triangle were the perfect guy?

As I was reading this story, I was fully prepared to rate it at three stars.  It was simply an "okay' read for me.  But then the proverbial stink hit the fan, if you know what I mean.  Another murder.  Luca comes home.  Mada's wedding.  And once that pacing picked up, it did not slow down.  And as sure as I was that I had everything all figured out, every piece of the puzzle where it belonged, I was thrown off course again and again.  Not many books come across my reading pile that can throw a serious curveball that I don't see coming, but Venom managed to do just that.  Fiona Paul is a whiz at misdirection, in addition to her ability to create such a picturesque setting.  The open ending left me a little wanting, but I'll definitely be picking up future installments in this series because I am sooo curious about the Order of the Eternal Rose.  I just know the story behind that will keep me glued to the pages!

Favorite Quotes:

"How terrible it must be to be a member of the noble class. So many rules. Such restraint. You must feel like a caged bird, battering its wings against the sides of its golden prison."

“Cass felt torn in two, like the sky split by lightning. One side guilty. One side wanting. She froze, statue-still, as Falco’s lips brushed against her earlobe and then moved down and across her jawbone. His mouth hovered in the air, a parchment width away from hers. Eternities came and went.”

"I know you want this as much as I do," he said. "You aren't going to report me. And even if you did, I'm inclined to think a night with you might well be worth imprisonment."

“Everyone else was apologizing to God for their sins, and here she was dreaming up some new ones.”

“He described marriage as much like a cage full of birds, where the unmarried struggle to get in and the married struggle to get out.”

Rating:  Photobucket


  1. wow.. i hate it when the book is really hard for me to read, but then gets SO much better!! Great review! Glad you liked this!
    - Farah @ MajiBookshelf

  2. I am so not sure that I would love Venom. I've gotten much more impatient with my books. I'm really glad you stuck it out, and it payed off so well. Great review, Jen!

  3. SO I am with you on so many points in your review. I need to get mine up this weekend, but for the most part your feelings were the same as mine. I thought the book started slow and was difficult to get into, although I didn't havea hard time sticking to it, I was thinking... is this just gonna be a 3 Heart book for me. Then.. boom right about the same spot for me, the second murder it just got really interesting. I didn't know who to trust, who to stay away from. I wanted to scream over and over..."hey dumb girl, go home!" (even though she really isn't dumb, just a tad selfish) anyways, guess I should save my babble for my review. Awesome review!!!!

  4. Glad that its as good as the cover. Awesome review!

  5. Hey, thanks for taking the time to review VENOM. I really appreciate your balanced and thoughtful review. I know just what you mean about open endings leaving you wanting, as I just finished THE RAVEN BOYS and was like "Out-freaking-standing. Now where's the rest???"


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...