Google+ Reading Teen: Guest Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Guest Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

The Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Philomel (October 30, 2012)
Mark on Goodreads
Buy the book: Amazon
Love, lust, murder, mayhem and high society converge in one thrilling debut

Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiancĂ©—yet she longs for something more. 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 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. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a poor artist with a mischievous grin . . . and a habit of getting into trouble. Will Cassandra find the murderer before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancĂ© or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?

Beauty, romance, and mystery weave together in a novel that’s as seductive and stunning as the city of Venice itself

At a Glance:
Usually I like historical fiction, and even more so when set in Europe. These novels just seem romantic by nature and Venom was no exception. Add to that the plot of the story- a girl tracking a murderer in Venice! I picked it up to read because it was dripping with mystic.

I wouldn’t say there is a lot of action in the book; it is more like a thriller where you are always waiting for something to happen. Venom was undeniably a mystery novel. I was actually expecting a lot more fighting and action. Although there is tension and adventure, there is only one notable fight scene in addition to a lot of running around and running away.

Even so, Venom totally had violence. Generally when you track a serial killer, violence is involved.   

If you don’t like romance, first of all, what’s wrong with you? What I mean is, don’t bother reading this book. :)

But the genius of the book was that this wasn’t your typical predictable romance novel. I feel like the author did a great job keeping you on your toes the whole story, not allowing you to actually know who the main character would choose, and if that person was safe option to be in love with. I liked this and was thrown with a few surprises. Always a pleasant experience.

Did I like the main character, Cassandra? I didn’t love her but I didn’t hate her. There were a few things that were familiar about her to me and she was easy to relate to. Like Cassandra, I also struggle with an internal battle between wanting to be safe and wanting to live life fully, not going on the predictable route.

I feel like her story was made to express this tension, something that most of us have felt or feel. I am pretty sure it is very relevant to most teenagers. I wouldn’t say she gave the best example to teens and I wouldn’t commend many of the girl’s choices being okay, sometimes they were down-right stupid and too trusting. But I was happy with the choices she concluded with.

Favorite Supporting Character:
Honestly, I was pretty indifferent to anyone else in the book except the artist, Falco (despite his horrible name). I liked his personality even if I didn’t always like his morals. He reminded me of a charming genius Argentinian musician I once knew who almost kissed me in an elevator just because he knew I had never been kissed. That would be Falco.

I’d love to tell you more about why I was drawn to this character, but I am sure saying anymore would spoil some of the book‘s fun.  But I am pretty sure the author wanted us to like him, and she she succeeded as I did.

Something I loved:
I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I read a lot of books and I am okay with it when I have a general idea of how the story will wind-up.  But this time, I can honestly say I really didn’t know what was going to happen and who was the murderer. My guesses kept changing. This was nice and refreshing!

Something I hated:
It took me too long to get into this book. There was just too much description and not enough of a hook until Cassandra went into the graveyard. Yes, Cassandra likes going into graveyards. Let that be your hook.

Then, although these choices were what made the story, it still bothered me that the characters would make what I thought were just really stupid decisions. Hangout with possible murderers in the middle of the night? Great idea! Run away in the worst parts of town alone? You are SO smart!

Would I recommend it? 
Of course I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, romance, and historical fiction. But if you don’t like these things, don’t bother.

By Elisa at the
“Inspiring the average American to change the world.”

For those interested in sexual content, you should know that during the book you are aware of affairs happening, prostitution is regarded at least semi-positively, and the main character is curious about sex. At one point of the book she walks in on a sex scene, which graphically imbeds into her brain. Besides that there is some moments of making-out but that is about it.


  1. I had mixed feelings about Cassandra too but other than that I really enjoyed this novel. The mystery was fun and I adored Falco!


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