Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

July 26, 2013 Review 40 ★★★

Review: Venom by Fiona Paul
Venom by Fiona Paul
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Source: Purchased
Pages: 435
Release Date: December 6th 2013
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Genres: Historical, Young Adult
Beauty, romance, murder… A novel as stunning and seductive as Renaissance Venice itself.

Cassandra Caravello is part of Venice′s wealthy elite. Her world is one of fabulous gowns, society parties and privilege, yet she longs for something more. While her fiancé is away studying in Paris, she has a chance meeting with an artist called Falco. He is attractive, audacious…and highly unsuitable.

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. Falco is quick to offer his assistance, but then another body is found and Cass starts receiving death threats… Is Falco more involved than she imagined? And will she be able to stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for someone she′s not even sure she can trust?

bec (2)

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started reading VENOM. I was hoping for a discovery of a secret society in a beautiful exotic Venice, maybe alchemists or something, searching for the secrets of eternal life. I wanted characters I could cry over, romance that made me squeal, and a mystery that kept me guessing. Did I get that? Sort of. Not on the scale I had been dreaming of.

VENOM is a slow moving historical. Long sentences and large chapters, but written well. I love the Venice Paul describes in this book. It seems so real and is honestly my favourite part of the novel. She shows us the darker aspects of the society, the risque side of the night. Think of the Florence in Da Vinci’s Demons, it was that type of society. I loved it. Normally in YA that side of things is only lightly described, roughly inferred, but Paul wasn’t afraid to show it as it was.

Though I loved the world, I can’t really say the same of the characters. I thought they were ok. None of them I really loved. Cass did some really silly things and trusted strangers after a night of knowing them. Not even the love interest, Falco, got my love. He seemed like he would be my type of YA character but all I really thought was meh. Their relationship also felt like it developed too quickly for my tastes. The otehr lover interest, Luca, Cass’s fiance who isn’t even in the first three quarters, was the character I loved most. I think because Cass hadn’t seen him for three years and was so convinced he was boring that I just knew he had to be awesome (and he was. Mostly. Still have questions about him). Another aspect I liked was the intermediate solution to the love triangle, which I can’t say because spoilers. I’ll just mention I’m proud of Cass for making it and it’s a solution I rarely see, if ever.

Plot wise, we never find out what the Eternal Rose is. It’s not even mentioned, just seen multiple times which is really frustrating for me. VENOM focused more on the murder mystery, which was ok but most of the detective work was Cass and Falco running around Venice at night (which was great) and having romantic trysts (which were really well written *fans self* Shame I didn’t like the characters more). And the ending of that is really open as well. I feel like I have learnt a tiny bit, answered one question, and developed one hundred more.

VENOM is set in a dark, edgy Venice that is absolutely beautiful and intriguing. It is well written with some great scenes, but unfortunately I didn’t feel too much for the characters and have finished with more questions than I started with. I’m hoping the next book takes less of a focus on romance and delves into what the Eternal Rose actually is.

Rating Report
Overall: 2.9

40 Responses to “Review: Venom by Fiona Paul”

  1. Melissa @ i swim for oceans

    I love how thorough your reviews are, Bec! I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve heard some mixed things on it, and I know that a lot of readers have had issue with the slow pace. I don’t think that will work for me either, honestly. Plus, I always want answers. WIthout them, I feel the journey through a book is pretty fruitless, you know? Lovely review :)

  2. Aa'Ishah

    I love good writing styles and it seems that Fiona Paul has really managed to bring alive her world here. It’s a shame that you couldn’t connect to the characters, though. That, combined with the lack of answers, would definitely make me enjoy this one less. I’ll still pick it up, but given all the mixed thoughts I’ve seen, I won’t go in with expectations. I’m sorry this was a bit of a letdown, Bec. Wonderful review. :)
    Aa’Ishah recently posted…Review: Fall of Night

    • Bec

      If I just had good characters and answers this could have been 4 or 4 stars… Low expectations is the way to go into every book, I believe. That way you can’t really be disappointed.

  3. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Now I’m super curious about this book. It sounds so atmospheric, although I think characters are also super important. I think I’ll probably end up reading this book and try to get over the fast romance. Great review!

  4. Becca @ Nawanda Files

    Hmm, I feel like I have to like the characters ultimately to enjoy the book, so this one probably isn’t for me either just based on your review. But the cover is super pretty :)
    Becca @ Nawanda Files recently posted…Book Mash [12]

  5. Soma Rostam

    Well, Bec, this is the first time I hear of this book but it sounds really intriguing. I love the idea, altogether and i hope i will like it better than you did, for the sake of the awesome cover :P
    Your reader,

  6. Giselle

    This sounded like it had a lot more potential. It’s the worse when you don’t connect with the characters or like them that much though it makes a whole book meh no matter how good the plot may be. It’s annoying that we never get answers about the Eternal Rose! It does sound like it was well written though and the dark vibe from it definitely intrigues me! Great review! :)
    Giselle recently posted…Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

    • Bec

      It’s such a shame. There was so much this book could have done well that it only delivered averagely. I’m really hoping for answers in the sequel.


    • Bec

      I heard that. Not sure how I’m going to like the location change. I’ll probably picture the Da Vinci’s Demons world the entire time I’m reading it XD

  7. Gina @ My Precious

    Well, at least the cover really grabs me. Too bad the story wasn’t better. I hate it when the characters don’t offer enough dimension for a good connection. Sorry you didn’t appreciate this one.

  8. Charlotte Eve

    Eh, I don’t think I will pick this one up… I am the kind of reader that usually needs a good set of characters (that aren’t meh). I normally do like having more questions in the end than what I started with, though. But only when the answers to the first questions lead to new questions… Does that make sense? :P

    Great review, Bec!
    Charlotte Eve recently posted…Friends In Young Adult Fiction

    • Bec

      It’s not the be-all-end-all solution, but it’s an interesting step in a triangle. Definitely interesting.

  9. Christina @ Christina Reads YA

    Did you think it was a solution, though, to the triangle? I thought it must be something temporary, since there are so many other books planned, and it makes me feel a bit wary because if I did read the next books, and the love triangle is brought back, I might get irritated with Cass for going back on her word.

    You’ve captured my thoughts about this book perfectly: Cass’ quick-to-trust behavior and silly decisions, not loving many of the characters but liking Luca the most, not understanding quite what the Eternal Rose was but wanting more of it, and the risque setting being beautifully explored. I can’t say that I’m going to pick up the sequel, since I’m still so behind on other books, but I’d love to read your thoughts on it, if you do. I am also a fan of that cover. The US one got redesigned, but methinks that your cover is better than both of the ones the US had.
    Christina @ Christina Reads YA recently posted…Lush on Thursday

    • Bec

      Not a solution, more of an intermediate step on the way to the solution (the science nerd in me immediately things of chemical reactions). It will change, but for now I love what she decided to do. And ah… her reasons won’t be around forever either.

      That’s fair enough. This world intrigued me enough and I have so many more questions that I want answers. If Belladonna isn’t good I might change my mind though.

      Yeah, Aus got lucky with these. Hopefully they don’t decide to redesign

  10. Leigh @ Little Book Star

    Definitely a pass for me! Although the plot was great, I don’t like how some things weren’t explained and how readers are not able to connect with the characters. Flat characters just drags the whole story down. I do like how there’s mystery involved, but I’m still passing on it.

    Little Book Star
    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted…ARC August!

    • Bec

      The characters weren’t flat exactly, I just never really cared. Your decision is warranted though.

  11. Kate @ whYAnot

    I have a copy of this book! Which I bought because the cover was pretty…. I nearly bought a copy of Belladonna the other day (the blue dress is gorgeous too!) but stopped myself. I have to stop buying books just cause of their pretty covers…

    I’m so glad that you liked the way she described Venice. I like books set in Europe and I’m glad she did it justice. Great review!
    Kate @ whYAnot recently posted…Cover Reveal: Suit & Fangs by Marian Tee

    • Bec

      Pretty covers are oh so hard to resist. I’m trying to resist all books until November…


  12. Megan (Ink Skies)

    I’m not big on historical fiction, but a slow moving one? That’s practically unbearable! I’m a pretty impatient person, so even if the world building was amazing and the writing was easy to follow, if the book isn’t entertaining enough, there’s a high chance it might become a DNF. Sorry to hear that this was such a disappointment, Bec. I’ve been hearing plenty of mixed reviews for Venom, but now I don’t think I’ll be picking it up anytime soon. Lovely review, though!
    Megan (Ink Skies) recently posted…Some Quiet Place Blog Tour: Resentment + Giveaway

    • Bec

      Most historical novels are slower in pace, I find. And I like the genre and change in pace so it’s good to switch things up every now an then. It wasn’t a disappointment per se, I still enjoyed it, it just could have been a bit better in some aspects.

    • Bec

      These are things I like to hear! I can’t wait to get into Belladonna. Yeah, the writing and imagery is superb.

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