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Venom by Fiona Paul
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Venom (edition 2012)

by Fiona Paul

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1592574,623 (3.52)3
Member:lilkim714
Title:Venom
Authors:Fiona Paul
Info:Philomel (2012), Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Secrets of the Eternal Rose series, murder, mystery, historical fiction, Venice, Renaissance, Young Adult fiction, library

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Venom (Dark Waters) by Fiona Paul

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» See also 3 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
This one has been on my to-read list since BEA. I'm a sucker for good historical fiction, and this promised Renaissance Intrigue.

Well. It was historical fiction. Set in Renaissance Venice.
But.
At first, I thought I would power through what felt like a slow start.
And then there was the kind of love interest angst that even my 14 year old self might have rolled eyes at a bit. Kind of wanted to whack the heroine upside the head.
Also, I think I'd thought, from misreading the cover copy that the heroine was a courtesan in Venice. Or an Assassin. No such luck! I think I kept reading hoping that plot twist would emerge instead of the murders and artists and love affairs and midnight sneaking about.

I'll say this- there was enough misdirection about the mystery that I didn't see the plot twist at the end coming.

And it's a series? Why is it a series? Bah! ( )
  ewillse | Mar 23, 2014 |
This one has been on my to-read list since BEA. I'm a sucker for good historical fiction, and this promised Renaissance Intrigue.

Well. It was historical fiction. Set in Renaissance Venice.
But.
At first, I thought I would power through what felt like a slow start.
And then there was the kind of love interest angst that even my 14 year old self might have rolled eyes at a bit. Kind of wanted to whack the heroine upside the head.
Also, I think I'd thought, from misreading the cover copy that the heroine was a courtesan in Venice. Or an Assassin. No such luck! I think I kept reading hoping that plot twist would emerge instead of the murders and artists and love affairs and midnight sneaking about.

I'll say this- there was enough misdirection about the mystery that I didn't see the plot twist at the end coming.

And it's a series? Why is it a series? Bah! ( )
  PatienceFortitude | Mar 6, 2014 |
As always all of my theories were elaborately wrong. So elaborately wrong. This book is so well written and so thoughtful I had hoped it would never end. Alas, it did, and I'm hoping for a sequel! ( )
  Bookaliciouspam | Sep 20, 2013 |
Title: Venom
Author: Fiona Paul
Ratings: 4 stars

I love love love historical fiction so it was a no-brainer that I would pick this book up to read especially since Venice is on my short list of cities I will visit before I kick the bucket. And, it made even more sense to review it especially since I’m waiting for my copy of Belladonna to arrive!!

First off, Fiona’s writing style is just lovely. Her prose is amazing and I really do wish that I can write as well as her one day but I really shouldn’t have expected anything else. If there is one thing I learned from reading countless Paper Lantern Lit books is that their writers are top-notch. The thing that basically cemented her in my head as a writer I must follow is the way she got me to fall in love with Luca even though he only made his appearance near the end of the book. Normally, writers could spend the entire book trying to sell me on a prospective love interest and I won’t fall in love with them at all.

But, I did fall in love with Luca (hard). And Falco (hard). I’m actually in love with both of them and that’s very depressing because whoever Cass does settle on in the end is going to be a bittersweet moment for me.

Secondly, Fiona is so adept at describing the beauty of Venice that it almost seemed like a magical world set in a fantasy and not a historical time period in a city that apparently was home to a lot of nasty-smelling sewage and diseases. And, best of all, she is one of those authors that can make you feel like you are in the city and help you see it clearly in your eyes even though you’ve never been there!

If you know me, that is a major plus since I can’t go anywhere right now on my student’s budget so books that have the ability to transport me to cities far beyond my own usually gets a spot in my collection.

The only reason I knocked off a star off my review is the plot. To be honest, it was obvious what Falco’s mysterious errand was and I pretty much guessed it even before it was used to build up the tension in the novel. I read one novel a long time ago (I forgot the title and it’s been bothering me) about an aristocrat in Venice who falls in love with the resident artist who goes off galloping into the night to study corpses despite a serial murderer running around Venice. So, yea… the plot wasn’t anything original.

Another thing that bothered me was how abrupt Christian’s big reveal was. There was no gradual epiphany moment that I enjoy having when I read mystery novels when I slowly come to the same realization as the MC. But, I’ve noticed this with the other PLL’s mystery novels (*cough* Truth or Dare *cough*). It’s like they’re giving you an awesome mystery and I’m working overtime to guess who the culprit is and at the last minute… BAM! it’s the character you didn’t even bother think about because the author only mentioned him/her, at max, twice.

But, the plot is easily forgivable because of the way Fiona is able to introduce the characters and Venice. Read it and you’ll fall in love with the characters and Venice. Besides, if PLL got the plot down perfect too then it just wouldn’t be fair to the other YA historical romance novels out there. ( )
  ChristineySong | Jul 18, 2013 |
It took me a long time - more than half way through the novel - to really get into Venom, and there was a time when I contemplated not finishing it. Something about Cassandra and her predicament refused to click with me, and I couldn't see the so-called romance between her and Falco as anything but an overly contrived way of showing the choices Cass has to make in her life. But the story grew on me, as did the characters, and I ended up liking it in the end. I think this has a lot to do with Luca.

Cassandra is a noblewoman in Venice, who gets caught up in a murder mystery when the body of her recently deceased friend is replaced by that of a murder victim. She's engaged to Luca, a boy she thinks of with disdain and faint horror, and is basically desperately searching for an adventure. Enter the artist Falco, who starts helping her uncover the mysterious deaths occurring in Venice, who provides just the distraction, and thrill of the forbidden, that Cass is looking for.

I couldn't like Cass for so long throughout this book - she constantly complains of the 'cage' around her and the fact that her life is predetermined for her. However, she readily escapes her home to accompany Falco on many late night adventures, and successfully pulls the wool over everyone's eyes, so you'll have to forgive me for not taking her seriously. Her dissatisfaction with her upcoming wedding also seemed forced to me - she never considers that the boy she hasn't seen for three years may have grown into a man she could love and there's very little discussion over whether she would have a choice in the match. Without ever coming out and saying she'd much rather not marry Luca, Cass assumes that everyone is hell-bent on forcing her to marry him, when it seems to me that this is far from the case. Everyone else assumes she's happy because they have been friends since childhood, and Cass has never implied that she doesn't want to marry him.

Her romance with Falco doesn't make any sense to me. I recognise that he represents everything that Cass feels she doesn't have in her life: danger, excitement, love, but there are too many creepy vibes coming off him for me to really believe that she could like him. He hangs around in graveyards, has no problem kissing and making out with her even though she's engaged (although she has an equal choice in the matter and it doesn't seem to bother her either), takes her to the most unsavoury places and leaves her unguarded, free to be groped by strangers, and yet, Cass still swoons over his eyes, smile, hands, other anatomy. It's tragic.

What really turned this book around for me was Luca. Once he was back on the scene I was a goner. Far from the awkward, socially inept boy Cass had repeatedly described, Luca is a wonderful gentleman. And good-looking to boot. I kept waiting for Cass to see how amazing he is, and I think she got there in the end. Luca has his mysteries too, but I always felt he genuinely cared to Cass's heath and wellbeing, and he is the only character in the book to ask her if she's happy with their match. I am really looking forward to seeing him and Cass built a relationship in future books.

The murder mystery in itself is quite interesting, but there are too many players in it for my liking. There are still so many questions that have been left unanswered, but I liked the way the story was wrapped up. There are a lot of clues in this book, and it's hard to keep track of which murder victim knew whom, and how all the suspects and victims were related, but I enjoyed this aspect of the novel all the same.

One of the major disappointments in the book is the general tone. I think the author has re-created the atmosphere of Venice quite well, but the way the characters talked felt off to me. There are many phrases and colloquialisms used in Venom that I feel are too modern-American for the setting of the book. I also disliked the smattering of Italian phrasing throughout the book. It seems wrong - supposedly the whole narrative is occurring in Italian, and we're obviously reading it in English, but the way mi dispiace, molte scusi, mannaggia and other Italian phrases are incorporated into the novel is tiresome. I feel like they should have been excluded all together, rather than kept in as clumsy reminders that the action is occurring in a foreign landscape as they have the effect of cheapening the setting.

I ended up liking Venom quite a bit more than I'd first thought I would, and I am glad that I have the sequel, Belladonna, ready to read. I've been sucked into Cassandra, Luca and Falco's lives, and I want to see them unravel the mysterious society that is the Order of the Eternal Rose.

You can read more of my reviews at Speculating on SpecFic. ( )
1 vote alcarinqa | Jul 8, 2013 |
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In Renaissance Venice, orphaned Cassandra Caravello is one of the elite but feels trapped in the city of water until she stumbles upon a murdered woman and is drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, grave robbers, and secret societies, guided by Falco, a mysterious and alluring artist.… (more)

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