Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Venom: A Fine Work of Historical Fiction That'll Chill You With Murder and Romance In Beautiful Venice!

I know what you're thinking (maybe, it's a guess): what's with the historical fiction? One with romance, at that? I like to read outside the genres now and then, especially when it's from someone I know or I win copies. In this case, I won an ARC copy of this novel almost a year ago from Kate Coursey (thanks, Kate!), and this cover's been screaming READ ME ever since. So I caved. And here's my review!

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.

(From Goodreads
*     *     *

From the first page on, I knew Venom would be one of those books where you have to lean back and absorb the words. There's plenty to see and there was enough world building to easily plant me in Venice, Italy during the Medieval ages. My pre-Renaissance history is a bit rusty, but I could see the setting, which is something I seek in every book. Paul's writing is versatile and smooth, and she introduced me to terms and items that I was unfamiliar with - something that will come in handy during my next medieval fantasy adventures.

Viewing the world through the eyes of Cass (Cassandra), our heroine, makes for an interesting read as well. Coupled with a betrothed fiancé and a handsome (commoner) artist sets the ever-expected love triangle into full swing - except it never felt like your typical swing. Much appreciated. There are also a few unexpected dark moments that drew me in, made me question, and kept me going.

Something I thought was fun about this read was the ample use of plot devices. Interesting takes and spins on each of them, and enough of them that I could play trope bingo! I'm a trope nerd, so you should consider that a glowing compliment. And you know this book has an involved series behind it because it ends with a bit of a cliffhanger that I'm sure Belladonna will resolve. So by all means, if you find yourself in the mood for an epic-feel historical fiction read, Venom is an idle book that's worthy of sinking your teeth into!

Cosmic Cruller Rating:

I'm David, and there's a leek in the gondola (it's for dinner)!


  1. Painting an accurate setting is so important. Glad you enjoyed the book.

  2. A great review of this fantastic sounding book.


  3. Historical fiction can be tricky - especially being able to paint such a vivid setting. I'm a history buff, so I like to read it every once in awhile.

  4. Nice review. I will have to check this one out! And that cover is fantastic.

    1. Ooo, I see the cover is different on Amazon. I'm not sure which I prefer.

  5. Oh I love the cover. I might have to give this a go. It's sound great.

  6. Like sounds like an awesome read. And I seriously love the cover.

  7. I love the cover and this definitely sounds like a good book! I'll have to add it to my list. :)

    A leek in the boat - yum. :)

  8. The cover is amazing, seems you really enjoyed it David.

  9. Sounds like a really interesting read. I'd love to see the awesome world-building that could take a reader to Venice. Reading outside of your usual genre never hurts. Thanks for sharing, David :)

  10. Great review David. You've convinced me to give this a go. Off to check it out and add it to my tbr list. (:

  11. Beautiful cover! I just added it to my list.

  12. This cover is stunning! Thanks for sharing your review with us; it's been on my to-read list for a long time! And now I'm in the mood for a nice potato leek soup...

  13. I officially have a cover crush! That's awesome that you read outside your own genre. It's always good to branch out and see if anything could be incorporated into your own work :)