Title: Venom

Author: Fiona Paul

Release Date: Available

Secrets, murder, forbidden love, spying, mystery, and more – you want it, Venom has it. Oh, and did I mention it takes place in Venice during the Renaissance? Venom, the first book in The Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy, by Fiona Paul, combines intense murder mystery with passionate romance as the protagonist navigates the canals of Venice in the early 17th century. I have to be honest – I love historical fiction. Lacy gowns, whalebone corsets, ink quills, fans, and masquerade balls all make me wish I lived in Renaissance times (well, maybe not the corsets!). Young adult readers who have taken AP European History will appreciate the references to Michel de Montaigne and Titian; I also loved when the main character was reading a book “by a little-known English playwright named Shakespeare, and the story was about a pair of young lovers kept apart by a family feud.”

The book is about Cassandra Caravello (Cass, to most people), a sixteen year old free spirit living with her protective aunt. The multiple storylines add dimension to the plot, although at times can get a bit long. A love triangle between a peculiar but intriguing boy who denounces religion and the proper, studious man to whom she is betrothed augments romantic tension, and the realization that a murderer is on the loose adds a sense of urgency – a murderer who might be trying to kill Cass! The mysterious Order of the Eternal Rose is another plot point readers are trying furiously to uncover as the book unfolds.

Although there were moments toward the middle of the book when I was ready to skip the detailed, numerous adventures and find out what happened, near the suspenseful end, I couldn’t stop reading. Fiona Paul writes in an elegant style that is perfect for the time period about which she is writing. Her incredible detail paints a vivid picture of 17th century Venice. Whether you are looking for a book with excellent imagery, a thrilling story, or both, you won’t be disappointed with Venom.

If you’re going to read this book, be prepared for a cliffhanger ending! I was shocked to discover I wasn’t going to find answers to all of my pressing questions by the end of the book. However, I was relieved to learn that Venom was the first book in a trilogy and Fiona Paul is writing two more books in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose collection (Belladonna will be released in 2013 and the currently untitled final book in 2014. Check out Fiona Paul’s blog for more about her and her books!)

All things considered, this book was rather long, and there were times when the detail became tedious. However, it was thrilling and captivating to read, and I know I will be waiting eagerly for the remaining books in the trilogy to come out. If you like romance, murder mystery, and historical fiction, you’ll love Venom.

Review by Katie

Order Venom from Book Passage


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