Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Venom

Goodreads summary:

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 review:

Venom was one of my most anticipated reads for 2012, and while I definitely enjoyed it a good deal, it didn't quite live up to all my expectations. 

I really liked the cast of characters in Venom.  I didn't always like the main character, Cass, though - she's really naive and makes some thoughtless decisions at times.  Yet despite this, she's a very determined character, and I like the metaphor of how she feels trapped and is trying to find freedom.  I wouldn't go as far as to say I admire Cass, but I found it easy to sympathize with all that she was going through - her hopes, dreams, and struggles to do right. 

A few other characters I really liked were Cass's Aunt Agnese, her friend Madalena, her servant Siena, and her fiance Luca.  At first, I expected her aunt to be one of those cliche, grouchy old women who never lets Cass do anything, is very strict about manners, etc.  But Aunt Agnese was an unexpected surprise - her character has depth and she just wants what's best for Cass.  By the end of the novel she'd become one of my favorite minor characters!

Of course, there's the standard love triangle.  At first, I liked the artist Falco.  He has a few funny lines, he's charming, and he has that "free spirit" kind of personality.  But after a while I got tired of him pressuring Cass to sneak out to solve the mystery.  And I didn't like some of the choices he makes.  I can't decide whether or not I like him.  Luca, on the other hand...I liked him right away.  He's sweet and quiet, and genuinely does his best to care for Cass.  I wish he was in more of the book, instead of just the last 100 pages!  I can't wait to see more of him in the next book.

As for the plot itself, unfortunately I guessed who the murderer is immediately.  It isn't horribly, groan-inducingly obvious, but I suspected him throughout the whole story and ended up being right.  However, there's quite a few other twists and turns in the plot that always kept me turning the pages. 

The setting was one of my favorite parts of the story.  Fiona Paul does a wonderful job paying attention to detail and description of Venice.  I want to visit it so badly now, after reading Venom!  The way she painted the atmosphere and feel of Venice was absolutely stunning. 

While I had a few dislikes about Venom - the obvious murderer, and the naive main character - it was still a very enjoyable read.  (Also, I thought the ending was one of the best endings I've ever read.  It was so satisfying and perfect, but leaves it open for the sequel!)  Definitely a great historical novel.  Fiona Paul is a talented new author and I can't wait to read the sequel, Belladonna!

My rating:  7 out of 10 (3.5 stars)

~ The Bookworm


  1. I found your blog on Goodreads and it's pretty awesome. Follow me back?

    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I'd be glad to follow back.