Heartwarming and Seductive: A Review of VENOM by Fiona Paul

Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose, #1) VENOM
Fiona Paul
432 pages
Publisher: Philomel (Penguin)
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
Source: ARC from Publisher
Rating: LOVED

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.

   Venomous, dark, and thrilling, Fiona Paul’s VENOM is a must-read.

   Set during the romantic era of the Renaissance in the streets and canals of magical Venice, VENOM is filled with lavish dresses, artisans, and murderers. Yes, murderers. That’s the one problem in Cass’s perfect world. A murderer is on the loose – and she might be his next victim.

   Cass is a headstrong girl who finds nothing more comforting that writing in her journal in the graveyard beside her aunt’s house. And when Cass steps into the crypt of a friend who was buried early that morning, she finds the lid open – and another body, bloated, inside. So begins the breathless debut of Fiona Paul.

   When I see a novel getting all the buzz on Twitter and Goodreads, I set my expectations to the lowest, because I usually end up being disappointed. With VENOM, however, the buzz was true – it’s unbelievably good. It’s no wonder Penguin chose it as one of the five Breathless Reads of 2012 – VENOM certainly tops my list of must-reads for this year.

   For fans of historical fiction and mystery-lovers alike, Fiona Paul’s debut has moments of both chilling and thrilling darkness. It’s seductive at its darkest and heartwarming at its lightest. The novel is the first in a series, but VENOM, thankfully, ends on a note that closes it as a standalone – so there’s no cliffhanger to worry about. All in all, you’ll want to pick this one up.

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Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I love this cover so much and I cannot wait to read this one. It just sounds so amazing!

    Great review!

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  2. Reply

    Dazzling Mage

    November 3, 2012

    Ah, Venice! I think I'd love reading about that! And I do hope it's one of those books with no unnecessary sequels. Great review!

  3. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I'm not a big historical fiction fan, but this one sounds just thrilling enough that I may have to pick it up!

  4. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I've really been looking forward to this one and now you have made me even more excited. Great review! Thanks.

  5. Reply

    Fiona Paul

    November 3, 2012

    Hafsah–Thanks for featuring VENOM. Lovely commenters–Hi :) Thanks for the love.

  6. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    my TBR is even LONGER now. :-)

  7. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I LOVED the setting and mystery of Venom, I'm glad you enjoyed it! :) I'm excited to see where the book will go next in the sequel.

  8. Reply

    Soma Rostam

    November 3, 2012

    I love the cover of this book. I love the premise, too. I don't know if it is historical romance or another genre. Still, I will add it to my TBR. And definitely order it from my library when arrives.
    GREAT review, Hafsah, as usual
    Your constant reader,

  9. Reply

    The Book Belles

    November 3, 2012

    I loved Venom. I thought the romance and mystery were amazing :) Great review!

  10. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I'm so excited to read this book. Especially now that you liked it! I'm am a huge nerd when it comes to Italy. I just adore it!!

  11. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    This book has been on my “to-read” list for a while now! How exciting that it's finally out. I hope to read it soon, especially after I just went to Venice this summer.

    Another good review! Thanks for your thoughts.

    ~ Kristi

  12. Reply


    November 3, 2012

    I'm so glad you loved this one! Hype always worries me too. But it's a delight to know that Venom deserves it! I didn't plan on buying Venom but now I might have to. :)

  13. Reply

    Amber Elise

    November 4, 2012

    Love your review! I was a bit hesitant about it but it seems like this book really shines!

    Amber Elise @ Du Livre

  14. Reply

    Tammy Sparks

    November 26, 2012

    I'm dying to read this book, and I'm glad you enjoyed it:) The cover is what first drew me in, and now it's on my list for sure!

  15. Reply


    November 29, 2012

    I'm glad that you loved it! That was smart of you to set your bar low, I set it too high and ended up disappointed. I agree that there is no cliffhanger (because you know how much I like my standaones ;) but I still think there are so many unanswered questions! I wish the Book of the Eternal Rose was actually introduced.

  16. Reply

    Alyssa Susanna

    January 17, 2013

    Ooo, Venom!!! I'm reading it now!!! I'm about halfway through, and I like it so far, but I find the dialogue extremely anachronistic. I hope I end up enjoying it!!! Great review!!!