Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on April 18, 2014 | 5 Comments

Review: Venom by Fiona PaulVenom by Fiona Paul
Series: Secrets of the Eternal Rose #1
Published by Philomel (10.30.2012)
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 435 pages
Source: I own it
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3 Stars

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?

My thoughts

Evil flows silently among us like venom.

This is a very tough review to write for me, and this book was hard to rate (you can see that my overall assessment ratings are all over the place). First of all, I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time because 1) I love the author. She’s one of the most friendly and sweetest authors I’ve ever had the privilege to talk to; and 2) because all of my Merp Squadders loved it. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of historical, and I was worried about whether I’d like this one or not. Honestly, I was a little nervous to read it. 

[What I knew about Venom before I picked it up: 1) All my bloggy BFFs loved it. 2) It’s historical. 3) Falco]

I’m not even sure how to describe my feelings about this book. There were things that irked me, but at the same time it was still a fairly enjoyable read. I really enjoyed the dark mystery aspect – this book was very ominous and I loved that! Kudos to Fiona for bringing out the sinister side of Venice!

I thought that the historical aspect of this would bug me (I pretty much hate anything historical), but surprisingly I hardly noticed it. The magical Italian setting helped to take the focus off of the historical feel!

I’m not sure how I felt about Cass. She was very naive and flighty, almost to the point of irritation. She was constantly coming up with crazy and colorful scenarios with her overactive imagination, and at times it was a bit ridiculous. After the first few, I found myself rolling my eyes.

Briefly, he touched his lips to the skin above her fingers. His mouth was cold – too cold. The image of a vampire, its fangs wet with blood, flashed briefly into Cass’s head.

This was it. She would never leave her room again. She would die here, an old maid, her flesh picked apart by spiders.

After hearing so much about Falco, I was hoping that I could fall in love with him. While he was swoony (albeit a bit broody), I couldn’t get into the romance and was never fully invested because it felt too rushed and instalovey to me. There was talk of love before even the halfway point of the novel, and Cass got upset because someone told Falco “she cannot be your bride.” They barely even knew each other, and she was disappointed because she couldn’t marry him?! 

“You know I would never hurt anyone.”
“I don’t know that. I don’t know anything about you. And what I do know, who can say if it’s real or a lie?”

So even she admits she doesn’t know him or anything about him. And she wanted to spend her life with him?! And then the NEXT page (seriously) she says she fell in love with him. YOU CAN’T LOVE SOMEONE YOU JUST MET AND DON’T EVEN KNOW. Argh!! That was my main complaint about this book. I can’t stand instalove!

“You know that I care about you, Cass.”
“But it doesn’t mean anything. Because it can’t lead to anything more.”
“You’re wrong. It means everything. You mean everything.”

“Your beauty lights up the darkest night.”

I loved those lines, but sadly they happened much too soon. I did like the idea of the forbidden love, and if the romance had been a little more fleshed out and had time to develop, I probably would have loved it. I wasn’t a fan of the love triangle, but it wasn’t as bad as some. I was impressed with Fiona’s prose, though, and will definitely be trying more of her work in the future!


“The human form, it’s a symphony. Tiny interlocking movements that join together in song.”

“Don’t fall into the trap of letting others do everything for you. It’s noble to accept help when you need it, lazy to accept it when you don’t.”

Overall Assessment

Plot: 3.5/5
Premise: 3.5/5
Writing style: 4.5/5
Originality: 4/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 4/5
Feels: 1/5
Cover: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 3/5

Jessi (Geo)

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5 responses to “Review: Venom by Fiona Paul

  1. YAY! I’m glad you liked it even if you didn’t love it! :3 Now that you mention it, I suppose the romance WAS super quick, but I think I was too distracted for Falco at the time lol! BUT ISN’T FIONA/PAULA’S WRITING JUST AMAZING? Yes. EEP!
    Does this mean you’re reading Belladonna?

  2. AAAH YAY FINALLY!! I’m glad you read this Jessi! And enjoyed it!! :D When I say the sequels are better, I really do mean it. I totally get that Venom wasn’t perfect, even though I still loved it. Whee. So excited to finally see this review on your blog! I can check that off my bucket list now. :D

    (Also, for some reason I must have accidentally filtered your blog subscription in my email, in my process of filtering others, because I’ve missed all your recent posts. WHAT MADNESS IS THIS? So if you see a hecka-bajillion comments from me, that’s why!)

    XOXOX, Inky

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