Release Date: October 30, 2012
Source: RT Convention
Published by: Philomel
Venom (The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1) by Fiona Paul
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.
Here's a quick convo my friend and I had about Cass, the protagonist of Venom.
Friend: She just got threatened for going into the graveyard and what is she doing? Going into the graveyard again.
Me: Yeah, that's what we call the Too Stupid To Live syndrome.
Me: TSTL. Definitely present in a lot of YA protagonists.
Friend: *thinks about it for a moment.* You're right. That's what this is.
I especially like this line. "She'd draw less attention in a servant's cloak than her own. Now that there might be a murderer lurking, she would take no chances" (65). Like that's going to protect her.
She's going at night. At night.
She's taking a knife with her. Oooh!
"Show yourself!" (66)
Me: Like that one girl in the horror movie who you know is walking right into a trap, and you kind of don't want her to live.
Basically, Cass the protagonist (because of the decisions she makes), and the ending / how the love triangle was dealt with were what irritated my and friend and I. We disliked how the romance played out because it seemed more like an excuse to have a love triangle than something that was believable. Falco was definitely an interesting romantic interest - arrogant, flirtatious artist trying to make the most out of his social situation, but charming as he may be, I wish we'd gotten to see more of his flaws (besides the "mysteriousness"), something more concrete in his character. Luca, Cass's studious, stiff, intelligent but awkward fiancee, also didn't feel like much of a contender to me, since he came a lot later in the book, and his actions--possessive, protective without offering an explanation--irked me. If this love triangle is going to continue, I hope we will get to know more about each guy. I would have also liked to find out more about the Eternal Rose, given that between each chapter is a quote from the book (creepy, creepy quotes that add to the sinister feel) and the organization is only briefly mentioned, but it does seem like a promising premise for the future novels--how involved this organization is in Venice's underworld.
Told in third person past perspective, Venom has the workings of a thriller - lots of characters, great suspense, mystery, intrigue. I didn't know who the murderer would be; Venom played with both anticipation as I wondered when the killer would catch up with Cass and when she'd figure out his/her identity, and unpredictability as each twist brought something new to the table. The plot and setting--the beautiful setting and cultural workings of Renaissance Venice--I greatly enjoyed. The pacing was pitch perfect as there was constantly something going on, though I think the beginning could have been a bit faster, and had everything connect quicker.
If you're someone who gets easily frustrated with your protagonists, this book might not be your cup of tea. On every other level (besides, perhaps, the love triangle at least for me), Venom succeeds as a historical thriller that will keep your attention riveted.
If you're interested in this book, be sure to enter the giveaway for my ARC.