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I Belong

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Title: Venom

Author: Fiona Paul

Genre: YA Fiction

Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose (Book 1)

Publication Date: October 30, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 039925725X (Philomel/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0399257254 (Philomel/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: Renaissance Venice explores young love and a mystery that takes place in the darkest corners of the graveyards.

Opening Sentence: “Man falls down before the Angel of Death like a beast before the slaughterer.”

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I was on a renaissance kick recently, so I was happily surprised when I received a copy of Fiona Paul’s Venom. The first thing that I saw was the pretty cover. The mask, alluring eyes, and pretty typeface (font) made me want to read Venom immediately. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, so I was sure to enjoy Paul’s spin on this thrilling tale.

In Venom, we meet Cassandra. Her childhood friend has just passed away. In Cass’ future, her life is destined in a path that she doesn’t particularly agree with. Engaged to a man, she fills her time amidst the safety of her home. In Paul’s version of Renaissance Venice, exploration and discovery was just blossoming. As proof of that, bodies were being stolen from their graves. Some say for the sake of science, others as something darker. One night, as Cass grieves at her friend’s crypt, she realizes that her body is gone, only to be replaced by another body. Within the darkness of the graveyard, she encounters a pair of blue eyes and a crooked smile. The mystery begins and so begins Cass’ tale.

Cassandra Caravello has stumbled upon a mystery, and a complicated and dangerous one at that. To honor her friend, she begins her quest to uncover the secret of the missing body. What she doesn’t expect is to reveal more than just a one-chance mishap. Cass is adventurous and brave, but at times I wondered if she was naive at the world around her. Some of the chances she took were a little too dangerous, but that’s the difference from myself and Cass.

Cass encounters many different characters, some that stand out more than others. Flaco is the dark and mysterious young man that captures Cass’ eye, prying her affection away from her future husband, Luca. Flaco, to me, was able to lighten up the mood of Venom just by his dialogue. I often found myself chuckling at the things he said. And with the tone of the rest of the book, I think it was needed.

Paul’s Venom is filled with a lot of dark secrets. Between the historical elements and the paranormal details, Venom was filled with enigmatic aspects that had me wanting more. The historical details that Paul put into Venom created this realistic world for me. Plus, Venom is set in Renaissance Venice. The romance and beauty of that setting alone adds to the allure of the story.

The different plots and twists within Venom created for a solid story. I must admit it took me a little while to fall in love with Cass. I wasn’t happy that Flaco’s influence over Cass was so large. It seemed like all common sense went out the window when it came to the two of them, but isn’t that the part of adventure that every young teen yearns for?

Venom is a great read, especially one for these upcoming winter nights. Mystery, intrigue, and romance will accompany you perfectly.

Notable Scene:

Cass thought back to the fuzzy yellow circle she’d seen moving among the gravestones. She had assumed it was Falco, and that he’d drunkenly set it aside somewhere…But apparently she’d been wrong. The light had belonged to someone else. A tremor raced through her body, causing her to shiver beneath the warm cloak. A stranger was prowling the shadows of San Domenico Island.

Was he looking for her? If so, what did he want?

And what would he do if he found her?

Secrets of the Eternal Rose Series:

1. Venom

2. Belladonna (July 16, 2013)

3. Forbidden (2014)

FTC Advisory: Philomel provided me with a copy of Venom.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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