Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Book Review: Venom

Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1)
Published By: Philomel
Publication Date: October 2012
Page Count: 435
Source: Won from Paper Lantern Lit
Audience: Young Adult - Historical Fiction, Mystery

Venice is a city that has always intrigued me. I mean how cool would it be to have a boat docked outside your front door to take you throughout the city? The concept of a city full of waterways instead of roads is something so far from my norm that I can't help but be mesmerized. When I heard about this novel, I instantly wanted to read it because of the setting. The plot, characters, and mystery were just an added bonus. 

Cassandra Caravello is a young woman of the elite class living on a small island outside of Venice. On the surface she has everything a girl could want - a wealthy, handsome fiancee, a beautiful villa (although it is in need of some repairs), health, a wonderful best friend, and beautiful clothes. Underneath though Cass is in shambles. The death of her parents still haunts her - especially because their bodies were never returned to Venice. Her aging aunt does the best she can as her guardian, but she is no replacement for Cass' doting parents. To make matters worse, Luca may be handsome, educated, and wealthy, but Cass hardly knows him and isn't sure he's the man she needs to marry. Cass craves her freedom, but knows that society will keep her locked in a golden cage. It isn't proper for women to have freedom.

Things begin to change for Cass on the fateful night she makes a gruesome discovery in the graveyard bordering her property. Her fate becomes intertwined with a young artist, Falco. The two are on a race through the waterways of Venice to track a murderer and find a  missing body. The action and suspense of this one kept me on my toes. The big reveal was truly a surprise; I never saw that ending coming! I'm already trying to figure out when I can squeeze in the next book, Belladonna, which just came out.

Other than the amazing descriptions of Venice, I also adored Cass. She's a strong, intelligent girl who has a stubborn streak a mile long. I also felt that her reactions to the sinister events were realistic. However, I did struggle with some of her decisions from time to time. For example, while in disguise as a courtesan she tells a man her real name. Really? How does that make sense? Especially when you are terrified of being recognized. Perhaps Cassandra was a common name in Venice during this time period, but I still think she could have given a fake name. There are other moments when Cass proceeds to do really stupid things. I liked her, but I wanted to shake her when these moments occurred. In fact, Cass' stupidity was the main reason I couldn't give this novel a 5 rating. Again, in spite of my frustration with her, I did enjoy this character. I predict we will see tremendous growth in her as the series progresses.

Another element I really liked about Venom is the connection to medical studies during this time period. Cass is a symbol of those with religious views about the dead while Falco is a symbol of those who favor science over religion. Falco believes that the body is nothing but an empty shell in death; he feels it should be used for artistic and scientific purposes. He doesn't think anything of doctors secretly digging up recently buried corpses to dissect. In this time period, the church forbade human dissections, but doctors wanted to further their craft. 

Finally, I still have so many questions about the Eternal Rose. I felt like the novel skimmed along the surface of that topic. Since this is a trilogy, I am sure all my questions will eventually have answers.

All in all, this was a compelling historical fiction novel laced with murder, mystery, romance, and secret societies. I loved the setting, characters, and plot. I'd highly recommend this to lovers of historical fiction or those wanting to take a mental vacation to Venice. Venom is like the historical Nancy Drew, but with hotter boys and more chilling crimes.

One Last Gripe: It irked me that Cass kept talking about Luca's letter, but kept putting off reading it.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The setting

First Sentence: "Man falls down before the Angel of Death like a beast before the slaughterer."

Favorite Character: Falco

Least Favorite Character: Donna

Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancĂ©, 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 fiancĂ©, 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.


  1. Well, I have been hearing a LOT about this series
    And I want to find the time to read it so bad
    GREAT review, as always
    Your reader,

    1. I'm really excited to read the next book. This one was a great read.

  2. This definitely sounds like a book I want to read! Oh, and LOVE the book trailer! Thanks for the review/. (:

    1. Thanks for checking out the review. I loved the trailer too. It has that creepy feel to it. I'd love to hear your thoughts when you read this one.

  3. I liked Venom, but I'm aching to read the sequel since I heard that one is better. Great review!

    1. Better? Awesome. I need to buy it ASAP.


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