[Review] Venom by Fiona Paul

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Title: Venom
Author: Fiona Paul
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: YA, Historical, Mystery
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
Published by: Penguin, Razorbill
Series: The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1


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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.

My Thoughts
First off I would like to thank Giselle (Booknerd Canada) and Brenna (Ever After Esther) for the recommendation, because I honestly don't know if I would have picked it up if they didn't. And I am very glad they did suggest it because I was in for a treat from the very first line.

Fiona Paul has a way with words, especially when it comes to describing the inner workings of historical Venice. Page after page I was transported to a place I had never set foot into in real life, yet felt i was a part of during the novel. Her descriptions of the historical buildings and the copious amounts of people that populate this amazing city. I loved the setting because it gave way to mysterious and suspicion that crawled through this novel from beginning to end.

What I loved most was the realism of the characters and their societal duties. It was very clear that there was a class divide right from the beginning, and that Cass's romantic feelings for Falco were frowned upon by her family and society. I thought it was extremely realistic that the portrayal of prostitutes in that time were idealized because of their freedom and blaze attitude. I know some may think that glorifying something that serious and dangerous should make readers dislike this book, but I very much disagree. I believe that back in the time that Cass's character existed, she longed for her freedom and watching these women take control of their lives and their lovers made it seem like good existence in comparison to the "cage" that she was in at the time.

Cass herself is an amazing character to read. She is curious and strong--even though at times she doesn't think she is--and she is determined in a way that many women in that time were not. Yet she is naive and stubborn and a little bit paranoid, but all of these characteristics make her a very humble and believable character. Her relationship with Falco made my heart melt and their chemistry (as Giselle kept telling me...and was right!) was palpitating and made me crave for more scenes of them together!

And the mystery! The mystery was amazing and made me read chapter after chapter and kept me up at all hours wanting to figure out who done it. But alas, I am not that smart and was quite surprised at how the killer was in the end. Speaking of the end, I really liked the way the book ended, not with a cliffhanger but a satisfactory ending that leaves intrigue for the next installment. Amazing read!

5/5 Stars

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  1. Whoo! I'm so glad you loved it. Isn't her writing amazeballs? So intricate, and her kissing scenes were just so hot and heavy. LOVE their chemistry..I want more Falco! LOL

  2. What I love so much about this review, is that you recognize portraying courtesans as glamorous is part of the historical setting and NOT me trying to encourage teen girls to go turn tricks. It WAS glamorous to be a courtesan back when your only other options were to be married off to a man you didn't like or to be shipped off to the nunnery. Courtesans were learned and talented in poetry and music. They were envied for their freedoms.

    Writing historical fiction is really difficult (for me, anyway), and I've definitely made some mistakes, but I think it's important not to re-write history so that it adheres to today's social norms.

    Also, I love the names Siobhan and Giselle and I am thinking someday when I need names for my more contemporary books I am just going to borrow from bloggers :)

  3. This is an awesome review, putting it in historical context, as Ms. Paul says above:)

    This sounds like an awesome book:)

  4. I've heard a lot of great things about this book.

    The idea of glamorous courtesans reminds me of that tv show from a few years ago, "Secret Diary of a Call Girl".

    I'm surprised anyone would think the author would be trying to make the life a courtesan seem exciting to teenagers . . . then again I've seen what people think ought to be banned books.

  5. Nice review, I would like to thank Giselle(Booknerd Canada) too!! Few days ago I read her review of this book in her blog and made want to give it a try. Now I have it on my TBR & waiting on my Christmas shopping list ^^

  6. I am exactly like you. This is not a book that I would have generally picked up on my own, other than to look at the pretty cover. I would not have brought it home. But I have been told, even screamed at a little, that I have to read this book. If you had to be coerced too, I think I will love this book too!

  7. I love a book with strong characters and lots of mystery! I am glad to see that you gave this 5 stars and that it kept you reading to find out what happened! I was curious to see how this book was and after reading your great comments, I can't wait to read it!