Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
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?
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.