Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Fiona Paul
October 30th, 2012
432 pages (hardcover)
Source: Publisher (unsolicited)
"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?"
Prepare yourself for a story with vivid descriptions and a tantalizing mystery, because Venom delivers that and so much more. From luxurious masked balls to an eerie graveyard behind Cass's home, Fiona Paul's descriptions excelled using the third person POV to intricately depict each new locale. While it could have been easy to let the scenery outshine the characters or the plot, everything remains nicely balanced and equally well-written throughout the novel.

The deeper Cass digs into the mystery of a murdered courtesan, the more danger she finds herself in. With a killer that may be targeting her, not to mention her conflicting feelings for Falco (a mysterious and amusing artist) and Luca (her kind fiancé, who has a few secrets of his own) Cass's normal life spirals out of control. While at times it may feel like you've seen it all before1Venom takes each element and creates a story that is undeniably difficult to set aside. Mysterious, passionate, and surprising, Venom doesn't disappoint.

Highlights: Fiona Paul kept the mystery alive throughout the entire story by withholding the last final clues for the end. Despite the two love interests, it never felt like a love triangle since Cass only has eyes for one young man. Each love interest is more complicated than I expected – both are flawed, so it's challenging to choose a side. Description was lovely and so very vivid. 

Lowlights: Originally, I was going to give this book five stars based on pure enjoyment of the story. But, there were some issues. Multiple clichés, and the secret society in the summary was barely mentioned in the novel. Cass could be a bit too reckless sometimes, but I understand why she was (the story wouldn't have went anywhere if she wasn't a bit reckless). 

1 There's one section that seemed exactly like a scene in Titanic, if only a more PG-13 version. Not a bad thing, but it did make me want to watch Titanic again...



  1. Hi Lea! This sounds really good and it's on my wishlist. I like a good mystery despite it having a few cliches here and there. Great review!

  2. What a wonderful review! Although I've seen this book around I never truly bothered to read a review!° So, I'm happy to read one such as yours who is giving the book so much praise! Love the mystery aspect and secret society!

  3. I'm glad to hear that it didn't feel like a love triangle. In the last book I read it didn't work out and I really need to read a book without one. ;) Great review!

  4. Great review, Lea! I have had my eye on Venom for awhile now and I'm glad it didn't disappoint. I'm with Nina on enjoying some books without love triangles. Good to know this one didn't have an annoying one!

  5. I feel the need to watch Titanic again and that movie is eleventy-million hours long. Uh oh. *adjusts schedule* *tries to ignore Celine Dion voice singing in head*

    But seriously, lovely review. Thanks for featuring VENOM :)

  6. Thanks for the great review Lea, it's actually the first I read on this book !! I look forward to read Venom, it sounds like a great read.

  7. I'm in love with that cover, so I'm so glad to hear the book is such a great read! Can't wait to check this one out.

  8. This has been on my wish list for ages, the cover is gorgeous and it sounds really good, hard to find in the UK though!

  9. Wow, I'm not sure why, but I had pretty much written this one off as something I would not enjoy. But now - I am intrigued, to say the least! I love me a well done mystery!