Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Pages: 432
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 30, 2012
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiancé—yet she longs for something more. 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 the body of a murdered woman—with a bloody X carved across her heart—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans, and killers. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a poor artist with a mischievous grin . . . and a habit of getting into trouble. Will 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, romance, and mystery weave together in a novel that’s as seductive and stunning as the city of Venice itself."
Cassandra is a wealthy young woman living in 17th century Venice.  She isn't like all the other girls though as she often wanders graveyards late at night and can be found writing in her journal wherever she goes.  Cass should be happy with her charmed life, but she has always wanted something more than the traditional role that is set out for her.  She is engaged to be married, but she hasn't set her eyes on her fiancé for years since he is away at school.  Cassandra's world is turned upside down when she attends her best friend's funeral and after the funeral she discovers that her best friend's body isn't in the tomb.  She joins Falco, an artist, on a quest to figure out what exactly is going on and she can't help but worry that a murderer has his eye on her next.  Fiona Paul's Venom is a fun historical mystery that really brings to life the beauty and danger in Renaissance Italy.

Cass wasn't someone I instantly connected with, but she grew on me as the Venom progressed.  I admired the fact that she didn't want to be constrained by society's expectations; essentially, she is a modern woman.  Her relationship with Falco didn't really work for me either. He drove me nuts, because he was always putting her into these situations that I felt he shouldn't be, such as galavanting through Venice at all hours of the night or going "undercover" to a brothel.  Her fiancé, Luca, comes back into the picture and I found myself gravitating towards him a bit more even though we know that he's not being entirely truthful with Cass.  He definitely has some secrets, but so does Falco. Paul is definitely setting up a love triangle in this series, but at least in Venom it wasn't too prominent as Luca isn't present in the book for some time.

The best part of Venom is the setting. I thought Paul did a fantastic job bringing to life 17th Century Venice, the canals, the eerie graveyards, the masked balls, and courtesans.  It was very atmospheric and made me wish I had visited Venice when I was in Italy a few years ago.  Yes, many critics say that Paul's accuracy is a bit off regarding what a fifteen year old female could get away with for the time period and the dialogue isn't very "Italian", but that really didn't bother me one bit as I was fully entertained by Venom's mystery.

Each chapter starts with an excerpt from The Book of the Eternal Rose and in Venom, Paul only hints at the possibility of what it could be. Hopefully we will find out more information in Belladonna, book two, which comes out this month.  I can't wait to revisit Venice and see what else is in store for Cass.  So, if you enjoy Renaissance Italy, a mystery, some romance and an unconventional heroine, you'll want to get your hands on Venom this summer.

11 comments:

  1. You had me at historical YA mystery. I'll definitely be checking this one out. Love the cover as well! I have to admit, my historical fiction standards are slightly more lax when it comes to YA for some reason. If I want totally researched and time-appropriate historical fiction, I'll read some Sharon Kay Penman. :)

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    1. I really like this cover and the paperback version as well. If you like historical mysteries, you'll enjoy this book. Thanks for visiting!

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  2. I've had this on my shelf for a good long while now, but I haven't picked it up. It definitely sounds like something I'd enjoy though, so now I'm reconsidering! Thanks for the wonderful review, Christina! :)

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    1. By the 2nd half of the book, I was hooked. I hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for visiting, Melissa.

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  3. i'm definitely intrigued!! thanks for the great review, i'll have to look out for this one!

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    1. I think you'd like it, Carrie! Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Sounds really interesting. I have heard some pretty good things about this so far. I love were the book is set.
    Really great review!


    DaydreamerN
    Http://www.daydreamerN.blogspot.com

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    1. Me too. The setting of Venice during the Renaissance was awesome. Thanks for dropping by!

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  5. I really hope we get to learn more about Luca in Belladonna, I'd like to get to know his character more. And agreed about the setting, it was so vivid!

    Fantastic review :)

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    1. Me too. I am definitely intrigued by Luca. I am looking forward to reading Belladonna soon. Thanks for visiting, Lea!

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  6. Is there a prequel to this? I read something like this and then got this book and the characters and setting are familiar, but the ending of what I read doesn't allow for the girl to live. And we know who the murderer is. Just trying to figure out what is what. I have this one and the next one to read, but I'm confused. I LOVE the setting!

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