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Book Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

It seems a lot of books I’ve read lately have really unusual settings – and Venom by Fiona Paul was no different. The backdrop of the novel is set in historical Venice, and the all the descriptions of dark alleys and swaying gondolas added so much depth to this debut novel.

Book Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

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VENOM fiona paul

Title & Author: Venom by Fiona Paul

Genre: YA – Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 30, 2012

Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1

Publisher: Philomel

How I Got the Book: ARC via the Publisher


“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.”

That’s Amore

Although I freely admit that I can’t handle super scary movies and books, I do love a good mystery. What I especially love is when there’s something sketchy going on and all of a sudden the main character is doubting everyone they know – especially their romantic interest.

I don’t know why exactly I find that so interesting (call me a weirdo, it’s ok 🙂 ), but that’s part of how Venom hooked me so easily.

Then, when you add in the classic class divisions, graveyard meetings and a Jack and Rose (Titanic) moment, you’ve got a WINNER.

Cass lives in a lovely but crumbling palazzo with her elderly aunt, who is overprotective but caring. Although her parents both died suddenly Cass’s prospects aren’t so dim. She’s betrothed to a rich, childhood friend.

Her life should be good and full, but Cass is tired of trying to be perfect when she clearly isn’t. She wants more from life and suspects getting married may just be another trap to keep her caged in society’s pre-determined roles.

To me, that struggle to fight the set path laid out for women in that time was a bit predictable, but I liked how Paul added in the “forbidden” Falco (a starving artist, of course) and the murders to keep things fresh.

I also really liked that this series is called “Secrets of the Eternal Rose,” but readers don’t really even know what that is at the end of the book. It makes me excited to know there are more secrets to uncover in the next books.


Venom had so much that I look for in top reads – romance (phew, yes), suspense, mystery and twists. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship series. And just be warned, although Venom is safe for scary-thing wimps like me, there IS serious gasp-worthy moments!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.